Somewhat misleading headline.
It reflects the odds of being able to deliver a specific treasury bond to the insurer at par.
By Michael Mackenzie and Nicole Bullock
May 25 (FT) —Insurance Cost Against US Default Hits Record
Published: Wednesday, 27 Jul 2011 | 10:14 PM ETText Size
By: Michael Mackenzie and Nicole Bullock in New York
The cost of buying insurance against a default by the U.S. rose to a record on Wednesday, in a sign of growing unease that gridlock in Washington over raising the federal debt ceiling may result in the Treasury failing to pay interest to bondholders.
In a CDS, a buyer of protection is compensated by the seller should there be a default or missed payment, known as a “credit event”. Premiums for one-year U.S. sovereign CDS rose sharply this week and traded at about 90 basis points in London on Wednesday, overtaking the previous high set in March 2009.
In the event of a U.S. credit event, the buyers of CDS would locate the February 2039 Treasury bond, currently priced at less than $88, and deliver that to the writers of insurance and receive $100 back, or par.