Another Russian Default

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MOSCOW: The first time Russia went deadbeat, the world economy quaked. Now that the country's new budget, released Tuesday, is $5 billion short on its foreign debt payments, no one's too surprised. And that's why when First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov comes to Boston on Wednesday to ask the International Monetary Fund for more cash, he's unlikely to get a dime.

"The IMF is in a bind over this," says TIME senior economics reporter Bernard Baumohl. "They're supposed to be the lender of last resort, and they have the money. But Russia shows no sign of ever finding a way to pay them back. Moscow has embarrassed them enough already." Meanwhile, the international bankers foolish enough to have made loans to Moscow in the first place, says Baumohl, have about given up. "What can you expect when literally half of the Russian economy is run by the mob?" he says. "There's no panic -- and no more loans -- because Russia, as an economy, just doesn't matter anymore." As for all those nukes, we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.