The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, urged the United States Tuesday to "find a solution" to raising the country's debt limit as a default nears.
After a European summit forged agreement on another rescue of debt-laden Greece, Lagarde said: "I hope that this courageous move will be followed as well in the United States, and that fiscal action will be taken as rapidly as possible."
"The clock is irremediably ticking, and people really have to find a solution," the new IMF managing director said in a speech in New York.
"Because frankly to have a default or to have a significant downgrading of the United States signature would be a very, very, very serious event. Not for the United States alone, but for the global economy at large."
If Congress fails to raise the ceiling by August 2, the resulting economic disaster could include higher interest rates for the US government as well as for consumers, and trigger a ratings downgrade on top-rated US debt.
President Barack Obama and his Democrats cast the blame for the stalemate on the Republicans' refusal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling unless there is agreement to make deep spending cuts without increasing taxes on the wealthy.
Lagarde said she would not comment on any plan offered, adding "it's not for me to say."