Weighed Down

illustration by Emiliano Ponzi for TIME

Countries aren't supposed to go bankrupt. Governments, after all, are funded by the tax revenues of entire economies, and, since they manage nations, they're not likely to evaporate, Enron-style, in a sudden financial flame out, or close up shop and flee their creditors. That's why lending money to states is considered the surest bet around. Reputation aside, however, politicians abuse their ability to borrow just like any spendthrift with too many credit cards, and often pile up more bills than they can handle. Argentina, Russia, Mexico and others have stiffed their bankers over the past 30 years. In fact,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!