There was a time when people in the West looked at the developing world and dismissed the corruption exhibited there as a disease of lesser economies. Nigeria, Belarus, Egypt, Brazil, all were (and are) chock full of insider dealing and bribery. In the West however we held ourselves to a higher standard. We had “clean” economies.
But as the author of the attached article points out, this to a large degree is a false perception and has become more false in recent years. The corruption in the USA and Europe has just become more sophisticated, and increasingly legal.
(From Foreign Policy Magazine)
But it’s often the corruption of elite insiders, not petty bribery, that most foments distrust of leaders and public institutions. As I describe in my new book, this “new corruption” may be less visible, but it is practiced on a wide scale by a set of global power brokers who have rigged the system to their advantage in innovative ways. The worldwide protests triggered by this form of corruption are proof that a growing number of people have turned into disaffected outsiders, all too aware that they stand squarely apart from this system of power and influence. This is the most damaging and far-reaching form of corruption that exists today. And this “new corruption” — difficult to detect, but insidious — deserves our attention.
Practitioners of the new corruption assume a tangle of roles that fuses state and private sectors. They abrogate public trust by working on behalf of their own, instead of those on whose behalf they purport to act. Just think of Goldman Sachs, often derided as “Government Sachs” for its seamless enmeshing of Wall Street and Washington. In the years leading up to the financial crash of 2008, Goldman routinely pushed the envelope — such as the notorious ABACUS case, in which the bank sold investments it knew were bad to one client at the behest of another. Yet the company apparently broke few or no laws along the way. Goldman also famously helped Greece (and possibly other struggling European countries) hide debt in the early 2000s. When the day of reckoning came for Greece, it wasn’t Goldman Sachs, elite insiders, or national leaders who paid the price of slashing austerity measures.