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China: The Politics of Fighting Corruption
August 30th, 2013
BERLIN - The well-publicised trial of Bo Xilai, a former politburo member and populist politician, for corruption and abuse of power does not prove China is serious about fighting corruption. Nor does it show that no one, not even a powerful politician, is above the rule of law. This elaborately choreographed prosecution is simply an exercise in demonstrating where power lies in an authoritarian state. In March Transparency International welcomed China’s strong commitment to fighting corruption and called on the authorities to take concrete steps to uphold best international practices for preventing and prosecuting corruption both at home and abroad....
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Interactions Between Small- and Large-Scale Corruption in China
August 15th, 2013
Over the last year, from the symbolic to the substantive, leaders in China have shown an interest in seriously tackling the issue of corruption. These changes have included charging Bo Xilai, the powerful former Communist Party chief in Chongqing, with corruption, bribery and abuse of power and, the relatively symbolic gesture, of banning the construction of new government buildings, which are often ostentatious relative to the communities they inhabit. Yet these changes have raised questions over the daily reality that citizens of China (and every other nation) confront as they interact with policemen, building inspectors, and customs officials—but also...
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Income Inequality, Wealth, and Illicit Financial Flows in Asia
August 1st, 2013
In recent years wealth among the wealthiest has increased. This trend is well-documented in the United States, where commentators have noted that since 1979, the rich have become richer and the poor have become (relative to the rich) poorer. Dubbed the “Great Divergence” by NY Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman, this phenomenon may be both a driver and the result of tax policy and tax evasion in the United States. But America isn’t the only country vulnerable to these kinds of trends. In fact, evidence from recent years has suggested that these trends are at play in several emerging...
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Farming for Rats: Perverse Incentives and Illicit Financial Flows
March 28th, 2013
In the words of two of my personal heroes: “Economists love incentives. They love to dream them up and enact them, study them, and tinker with them.” For good reason; incentives make the world go round. They are the reason we get up in the morning, the reason we go to work, and definitely the reason we brush our teeth. They are dictate the speed we drive, the groceries we buy, and the pace of our work. Sometimes they are negative (the prospect of getting a cavity or a speeding ticket) and sometimes they are positive (a raise, or a...
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