It's getting expensive for Bashar al-Assad to cling to power, so his regime is just printing new bank notes to ensure that Syria can pay salaries and other expenses, bankers tell Reuters, in a move that experts warn could lead to rampant inflation. Violence and sanctions have shrunk Syria's economy and reduced government revenues, necessitating the move. "The deficit is there and it is already increasing and increasing quickly," says one businessman. "And to finance it they have to print currency."
Syria's budget swelled to $27 billion this year, its largest in history, as the government sought to keep more people employed or subsidized—and hence not rebellious. "People are getting their wages and there are no complaints," one banker said. But "if we reach a stage where they are not paid, there will be a crisis." But inflation is already at 30%, and another banker warned that recklessly printing money "could be economic suicide." (Read more Syria stories.)