Great Hopes Are Gone

Beneath an asthmatic fan, the pianist eases from a tired collection of pop tunes to Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory. It is a curious switch because there is hardly any glory in the seedy Kinshasa bar near the banks of the sluggish Zaïre River and little hope for the country that bears the river's name. Though its debts are small on an international scale—only $5.1 billion—Zaïre is a financial basket case, a country so broke, so mismanaged, so beset by the global recession and, ultimately, so corrupt that it should be a perfect warning to lenders. Since 1976, Zaïre's debt...

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