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The biggest bank in Kazakhstan has announced it will no longer pay its debts to foreign creditors, 11 billion dollars worth. My interest comes mainly from the fact that my wife is Kazakh, and my daughter was born there. Knowing the Kazakhs, none of us are surprised to see this sort of headline. In fact, I am surprised anyone would want to loan money to someone there, even a bank. Defaulting on a loan is typical there, and few see any fault in it.

“This was expected in the sense the bonds had already been trading in a deeply distressed fashion,” Adel Kambar, the chief executive of the Kazakh office of Renaissance Capital, said in a telephone interview.

True enough that financial enterprises are having trouble everywhere, so not necessarily a poor reflection on Kazakh culture. But I am still not expecting my brother-in-law to pay me back.

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