McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld
by Misha Glenny
Times have never been better for criminal entrepreneurs, says journalist Misha Glenny. Car theft is Europe’s fastest-growing industry. Female sex slaves have become “an attractive entry-level commodity” for bad guys the world over. The collapse of the Soviet Union opened up black-market opportunities of all kinds. “A new class of capitalists,” writes Glenny, “exploited the vacuum of power by seizing whole industries and raiding the state coffers” in Russia and its former satellites. Their money poured outward, seeking safe havens, and their skills in surveillance, smuggling, and murder also found wider application. Thanks to a big assist from the liberalization of Western financial and commodities markets, says Glenny, shadow markets now account for 15 percent to 20 percent of the world’s economic output.
Glenny doesn’t sound alarms indiscriminately, said William Grimes in The New York Times. “Oddly enough,” he “puts in a good word for snakeheads”—the Chinese agents who charge a fortune to illegally smuggle peasants into the West’s wealthier labor markets. He wants the West to adopt more rational immigration policies, to stiffen international banking regulations, and to legalize drugs. He’s “wildly ambitious” as a reporter, too, hopping from Nigeria to Israel, from Internet fraud to marijuana farming. “For sheer enterprise, he is hard to beat,” but an effective synthesizer he’s not. “Anything like a clear picture of global crime eludes him.”
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