In Lebanon, the banking sector gave loans to the Banque du Liban (BDL) central bank that, in turn, lent the money to the government, which kept increasing its debt to pay the interest. Bankers are easy to blame, and probably deserve it; the other side of the story is what happens in the economy and drives the crisis. This is in a country that historically operated a budget surplus and had a sound monetary policy, with risk-averse bankers.

What the BDL did is no different from what the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department are now doing in the US, with the trillions of dollars being printed and buying their own bonds. In any other economy, what would follow would be a race between economic recovery and debt servicing to make the latter sustainable. But in the US the government can print dollars as it pleases and feed its own Ponzi scheme indefinitely, as long as the US dollar is the global reserve currency.

There is no banking system that can…

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