Elected officials are full of hopeful predictions that a collision with the debt ceiling will be averted this week, yet evidence of concrete steps toward this end remain elusive. America goes into the week with no agreement to re-open the federal government or raise the debt ceiling ahead of Thursday's deadline.
Around the world, the political pageant in Washington is being watched with some dread.
"Everybody's been commenting about it -- the Germans have been commenting about it, the Chinese," says the BBC's Nkem Ifejika from London. "Top Chinese academics say China has in the region of $1.3 trillion invested in U.S. treasuries. So the United States says it's not going to pay up, then they would be really upset about that."