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Archive for April 25th, 2009

From the AP:

While businesses around the world are hunkering down for survival, the Italian mob is living a golden moment.  Italy’s various organized crime syndicates – often lumped together colloquially as Mafia Inc. – are gobbling up gas stations, muscling in on supermarket franchises, making loans to cash-starved businesses, taking over trattorias and acquiring buildings in swank neighborhoods in Rome and Milan, investigators say.

Big money:

The Rome-based Eurispes think tank has estimated that in 2008, “Mafia Inc.” earned euro130 billion (then $167 billion), or about 8 percent of Italy’s GDP, from its criminal activities, nearly half of that from drug trafficking.  Eurispes, which analyzes social, economic and criminal trends, said loansharking brought in an estimated euro12.6 billion ($17 billion) of that income. It calculated that some 180,000 merchants and other businessmen got their loans, directly or indirectly, through organized crime in Italy.

And it’s not just drugs:

Trafficking in fake designer goods – which investigators suspect the Camorra is also peddling in the United States, France, Britain and Germany – is now becoming more profitable for the Neapolitan syndicate that dealing in cocaine and hashish, said Mainolfi, the customs and tax police general.  He has calculated that for every euro it costs to manufacture the counterfeit designer goods, the Camorra earns 10 euros, while for every euro spent to run drug trafficking, it earns six or seven euros.

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A reader of this blog emailed me the following list, which compiles all the “ND experts” on Notre Dame’s News and Information website. The list has a number of professors from a wide array of departments. And some economists, too.

Who are the economists?

Kasey Buckles

William Evans

Thomas Gresik

Richard Jensen

Nelson Mark

Christopher Waller

Hmm…all from the Department of Economics and Econometrics- seems a little suspicious, no?

I’m told that there are two factors in someone being on this list: how aggresively does NewsInfo pursue them, and how much desire do they have to be on this list and be consulted. I have a hard time believing the lack of ECOP faculty is a result of their disinterest in public discourse or their ivory tower-ness. Faculty from both departments regularly appear on campus panels and seminars, and show up in local newspapers. I have a hard time believing that, across the board, ECOP faculty are aggresively pursued by NewsInfo and simply turning them down because they don’t want exposure. The question, then, is who has instructed NewsInfo to approach one department’s economists and not the other’s?

One final note: I’ve posted before about the macro work of a couple experts on the above list, and I’d just like to link there with one comment: maybe ECOP expert opinions would be more in touch with reality, especially with regards to the current crisis.

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