December 29, 2009
According to the Wall Street Journal:
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a bill banning the jailing of people suspected of tax crimes and has fired another senior prison official following the jail death of a tax lawyer in November.
Mr. Medvedev, who has advocated more lenient punishment for economic crimes, signed a law banning the jailing of people under suspicion of tax crimes and allowing those convicted of a first tax offense to be fined without being held criminally liable, the Kremlin said in a statement Tuesday.
December 10, 2009
Looters in Brazil have stolen nearly $6 million “in a heist that demonstrated the unbelievable distracting power of soccer in the country.”
The thieves rented a house near a cash delivery firm, erected Christmas decorations to make the operation look legitimate, and then dug a 100-meter-long tunnel beneath the building.
During the 39th Bazillion soccer championship when everyone was distracted, “they blew the floor out of the building and plundered the riches.”
The security guard didn’t suspect a thing: He figured the noises came from celebrating fans. The thieves got away with a perfect heist.
December 2, 2009
When asked about the biggest problem facing the criminal justice system, Radley Balko told the Economist:
[T]he incentive problems are most apparent with prosecutors. Prosecutors get no credit for cases they decide not to bring, either because of a lack of evidence or because pressing charges wouldn’t be in the interest of justice. They’re only rewarded for winning convictions. That’s what gets them promoted, or re-elected, or gives them the elevated profile to run for higher office. Every incentive points toward winning convictions. And particularly with prosecutors, there’s really no penalty at all for going too far to get a guilty verdict. One real disservice the Duke lacrosse case did for the criminal-justice system is it put in the public consciousness the idea that bad actors like Mike Nifong are regularly disciplined for misconduct. In truth, that case was really exceptional.
October 24, 2009
In today’s Wall Street Journal Don Boudreaux argues that insider trading should be decriminalized.
Reminds of what Milton Friedman had to say on the issue:
You want more insider trading, not less. You want to give the people most likely to have knowledge about deficiencies of the company an incentive to make the public aware of that.
October 4, 2009
If you take into account the scope of the underground economy in Greece, the nation becomes among the richest in the world. Accroding to the CIA Factbook, the per capita income of Greece stands at $32,000 a year on a purchasing power parity basis. But according to a New York Times article, the Greek underground economy is equal to 30 percent of GDP, increasing the true per capita income to approximately $41,600. This places the Greek GDP 6 percent above the $39,100 income reported for Canada.
October 3, 2009
According to a new paper by Eric D. Gould and Guy Stecklov of the Hebrew University in Israel, since terrorism increases police presence and keeps people at home, it unintentionally reduces crime:
This paper argues that terrorism, beyond its immediate impact on innocent victims, also raises the costs of crime, and therefore, imposes a negative externality on potential criminals. Terrorism raises the costs of crime through two channels: (i) by increasing the presence and activity of the police force, and (ii) causing more people to stay at home rather than going out for leisure activities. Our analysis exploits a panel of 120 fatal terror attacks and all reported crimes for 17 districts throughout Israel between 2000 and 2005. After controlling for the fixed-effect of each district and for district-specific time trends, we show that terror attacks reduce property crimes such as burglary, auto-theft, and thefts-from-cars. Terror also reduces assaults and aggravated assaults which occur in private homes, but increases incidents of trespassing and “disrupting the police.” Taken as a whole, the results are consistent with a stronger deterrence effect produced by an increased police presence after a terror attack. A higher level of policing is likely to catch more people trespassing, and at the same time, reduce the number of property crimes. The decline in crimes committed in private houses is likely an indication that the tendency for individuals to stay home after a terror attack further increases the costs of crime.
Click here to view the paper.
October 1, 2009
A report released last year by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners to identify the scope of non-profit fraud discovered…
…that the typical theft from a charity was committed by a female employee with no criminal record who earned less than $50,000 a year and had worked for the nonprofit at least three years. The amount she stole was less than $40,000.
The most costly cases, the study found, involved male executives earning $100,000 to $149,000 a year. The thieves in such cases had typically been with the organization the longest.
But what is getting the attention of nonprofit leaders is the report’s estimate of the overall cost, which the authors put at $40 billion for 2006, or some 13 percent of the roughly $300 billion given to charity that year.