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,...

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