This book offers a tour of mafia activities around the world, across many "business opportunities." Glenny goes from Bulgaria (where he served as a journalist) to ex-Yugoslavia, to Russia and Israel, to Dubai, India, Nigeria and S Africa. He ends by crossing from Canada to S America (perhaps via the US) and going to Japan and China. The book was published in 2008, but it still seems rather fresh, especially when considering the variety of scams, crimes, sins and incompetence on display around the world.
Here are a few sample ideas:
- "There are two basic types of criminal syndicate: the commodity traders and protection racketeers."
- The end of the Cold War meant an end of idealistic patrons: rebels thus started to make money with conflict diamonds, oil, etc.
- Mafia growth in China has built on opportunities opened by Bejing's acceptance of provincial "experimentation"
It is not globalization in itself that has spurred the spectacular growth of organized crime in recent years, but global markets there either insufficiently regulated, especially in the financial sector, or to closely regulated, as in the labor and agricultural sectors. In the 1990s, we witnessed the beginnings of a global regulatory regime of the financial markets that held out a hope: there was a chance that we might establish a grip both on the partially regulated licit economy and on the entirely unregulated shadow economy. Since the millennium, however, a hostile United States, an incompetent European Union, a cynical Russia and an indifferent Japan have combined with the unstoppable ambition of China and India to usher in a vigorous springtime both for global corporations and transnational organize crime -- p.394Don't forget the definition I mentioned above: "the abuse of public office for private gain." This exploitation is only possible with the connivance of government officials.
Bottom Line I give this book FIVE STARS for its incredible examples illustrating and explaining how the mafia steps in to exploit citizens when (incompetent or corrupt) government steps out.