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Opinion
Leonid Bershidsky

You Say Debt Relief, I Say Theft

A government can expropriate its creditors anytime it wants and it's a big mistake to pretend otherwise.
Don't cry for Greece.

Don't cry for Greece.

LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images

As someone who sides with Germany in the matter of Greek debt, I often hear that creditors should be held culpable for driving deadbeats like Greece to the brink of bankruptcy. That's true to an extent, but not when the debtor is a government. Nation-states have confiscatory powers that allow them to do to their creditors what medieval kings did to their Jews. It's a big mistake to pretend that a country like Greece is more vulnerable than it really is.

Nobel prizewinning economist Joseph Stiglitz eloquently described the concept of lenders' fault in a recent column: