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By Bruce Einhorn, Frederik Balfour, Moon Ihlwan, Mark Scott, and Andy Reinhardt
The recent collapse of Iceland's banking system underscores the speed and ferocity of the current financial crisis. Although the island nation has just over 300,000 people, its high-flying (and highly leveraged) banks straddled the globe and were heavily exposed to foreign debt. When credit seized up, they couldn't cover their positions. Now Iceland itself may go bankrupt because, like its banks, it depends heavily on foreign money to pay for a current account deficit that tops 8% of gross domestic product. (The current account is the trade balance plus proceeds from foreign investments and net inflow of transfer payments.) By other measures, such as its sovereign credit rating and government budget surplus, Iceland looked pretty healthy before the crash, which makes its collapse all the more frightening. Are there other countries around the world whose banking systems—or governments—also could fail in the market meltdown? We're not making predictions, but click to read about 13 nations, arranged by credit rating from worst to best, that are especially hard-hit by today's pain. Data from S&P, IMF, Bloomberg