Niall Ferguson: The Shutdown Is a Sideshow. Debt Is the Threat. Niall Ferguson, October 6, 2013, Opinion. "In the words of a veteran investor, watching the U.S. bond market today is like sitting in a packed theater and smelling smoke. You look around for signs of other nervous sniffers. But everyone else seems oblivious. Yes, the federal government shut down this week. Yes, we are just two weeks away from the point when the Treasury secretary says he will run out of cash if the debt ceiling isn't raised. Yes, bond king Bill Gross has been on TV warning that a default by the government would be "catastrophic." Yet the yield on a 10-year Treasury note..."