Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations

Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations

Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations

Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations


Meet the economic gangster. He's the United Nations diplomat who double-parks his Mercedes on New York City streets at rush hour because the cops can't touch him--he has diplomatic immunity. He's the Chinese smuggler who dodges tariffs by magically transforming frozen chickens into frozen turkeys. The dictator, the warlord, the unscrupulous bureaucrat who bilks the developing world of billions in aid. The calculating crook who views stealing and murder as just another part of his business strategy. And, in the wrong set of circumstances, he might just be you.

In Economic Gangsters, Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel take readers into the secretive, chaotic, and brutal worlds inhabited by these lawless and violent thugs. Join these two sleuthing economists as they follow the foreign aid money trail into the grasping hands of corrupt governments and shady underworld characters. Spend time with ingenious black marketeers as they game the international system. Follow the steep rise and fall of stock prices of companies with unseemly connections to Indonesia's former dictator. See for yourself what rainfall has to do with witch killings in Tanzania--and more.

Fisman and Miguel use economics to get inside the heads of these "gangsters," and propose solutions that can make a difference to the world's poor--including cash infusions to defuse violence in times of drought, and steering the World Bank away from aid programs most susceptible to corruption.

In a new postscript, the authors look at how economists might use new tools to better understand, and fight back against, corruption and violence in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Take an entertaining walk on the dark side of global economic development with Economic Gangsters.


In the summer of 2004, world-renowned Kenyan novelist Ngugi Wa Thiong'o returned to his homeland after twentytwo years in exile. He flew to Nairobi to launch his new novel, Wizard of the Crow, his first in over a decade. Ngugi's earlier works—a dozen or so novels and collections of stories, which he began publishing just after Kenyan independence in 1963—had been wildly successful, not only in Kenya but throughout the world. Through his carefully wrought characters and achingly familiar plots of loss and suffering, Ngugi captured the bewildering contradictions left behind in the wake of European colonialism.

Ngugi had lived those contradictions and drew inspiration from his experiences, which were shared by so many of his fellow Kenyans. Ngugi had grown up during the 1950s, when Kenya had been rocked by the Mau Mau rebellion against its British colonizers. He had witnessed the murder . . .

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