Tim Mullaney: Will the debt ceiling tank the market?

With Congress about to begin a month-long game of chicken that could lead to shutting the government, defaulting on the national debt — or both — how worried should you be?

Pretty worried — but not terrified.

There’s a fair amount of recent history to draw on, and it’s mixed. Washington’s follies can tank the market, but it’s usually only serious if there’s another reason for traders to fret too. That other reason could be the mere presence of the most volatile, least coherent President in nearly any of our lifetimes, a risk factor all by himself. But not likely.

There are four relevant precedents to think about.

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