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Bleed the Foreigner

PRINCETON – Today, the world is threatened with a repeat of the 2008 financial meltdown – but on an even more cataclysmic scale. This time, the epicenter is in Europe, rather than the United States. And this time, the financial mechanisms involved are not highly complex structured financial products, but one of the oldest financial instruments in the world: government bonds.

While governments and central banks race frantically to find a solution, there is a profound psychological dynamic at work that stands in the way of an orderly debt workout: our aversion to recognizing obligations to strangers.