Transnational Organized Crime and International Security: Business as Usual?

By Mats Berdal; Mónica Serrano | Go to book overview

3

Transnational Crime
and Economic Globalization
Peter Andreas

The global economy has been transformed in recent decades through the widespread dismantling of statist economic policies and the acceptance of liberal market reforms. This “triumph of neo-classical economics” has been most pronounced in the less developed regions of the world (Biersteker 1992). At the urging of Western economic advisers, developing countries have opened up their economies, implemented farreaching structural-adjustment programs, and encouraged greater integration with the global economy. In short, there has been substantial conformity with the neoclassical economic logic of what has been labeled the “Washington consensus. ”

However, many developing countries have been most competitive in the criminalized sectors of the global economy, such as the smuggling of drugs and migrant labor. In a global marketplace dominated by transnational corporations from the industrialized world, criminal organizations stand out as some of the developing world's most successful—though least celebrated—transnationals. Regardless of their illegal status, the economic activities of transnational criminal organizations are in many ways the quintessential expression of the kind of private-sector entrepreneurialism celebrated and encouraged by the neoliberal economic orthodoxy. As producers or transit-points of illegal exports, many developing nations have in essence taken the advice of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank literally, through specialization based on comparative advantage. Here, ironically, it is the advanced industrialized countries that have been most resistant to economic liberalization, and most in favor of strong (and often punitive) state intervention. But even as prohibitionist policies are aggressively promoted, the uncomfortable reality in many places is that the criminalized economy has been a crucial source of both revenue and

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