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.
“[S]mart and eminently readable . . . [F]isman and Miguel try to do for global poverty what [Steven] Levitt did for domestic economic issues. For example, they look at the way ‘witches’ are killed in Tanzania whenever rainfalls fail and food is scarce; it turns out that families try to save food by executing less-productive elderly women as witches.”–Nicholas Kristof, NYTimes.com’s On the Ground blog
“Columbia’s Ray Fisman and Berkeley’s Ted Miguel are two of the most creative and interesting economists I know. Each is driven to better understand just what keeps poor countries in poverty, and they are willing to try some pretty amazing research strategies to figure it out. They have traveled far and wide–both geographically and intellectually–and in their beautifully written book Economic Gangsters, they shine a well-honed statistical spotlight on the twin evils of corruption and violence. The book is a dead-set page turner, and there’s nothing more fun than feeling like you are next to them as they travel the world in search of the scoundrels responsible for so much suffering.”–Justin Wolfers, Freakonomics blog
“Smart and eminently readable.”–Nicholas Kristof, NYTimes.com