The boiler room of the ship of state is a sterile chamber on the ninth floor of an unremarkable office building in downtown Washington. Half a dozen staffers sit at computer monitors, staring at incoming data. A voice with a Brooklyn accent squawks over an intercom: "Five minutes to go!"
This is the auction room of the Bureau of the Public Debt. On this particular morning -- Tuesday, the first day of December -- the United States is going to borrow $31 billion.
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