Greece and too many other countries have been trying to defy gravity by living the good life on borrowed money. In 2001, the Greeks entered the eurozone, which gave them access to low-rate loans under the pretense that Greece was richer than it was. The seeds of the destruction that resulted in the closure of the banks this week were planted the day the Greeks adopted the euro. None of this should have been a surprise to anyone. The only thing for certain is that the Greeks will now suffer another major drop in their real incomes.

The open question is will the Europeans, the Americans, the Japanese and others who also have been living on borrowed money, growing at unsustainable rates, learn the lessons from the latest Greek tragedy, or will they too march off the cliff? The United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Brazil and a majority of smaller countries again this year will have lower rates of economic growth than the size of their current deficits as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) — causing a continued growth in the real debt burden.