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A world of cronyism and corruption

By Kaushik Basu

03 Jul 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. One consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that Vladimir's Putin’s corruption has morphed into a global problem, Kaushik Basu writes in PS.

NEW YORK – Imagine the following scenario. A political outsider wins a critical election by promising to root out corruption. Even if that is a sincere intention, upon assuming office, they will quickly realize that it is best to focus on the critics of the government and opposition political parties, since going after one’s own allies will erode one’s political base. Hence, an unintended consequence of this original plan is to plant the seeds of cronyism. Even while targeting corruption, by protecting friends and doling out favors to allies, the leader strengthens their hold on power, and the country slides toward authoritarianism. In the end, corruption, too, could end up rising rather than falling.

This story has been repeated numerous times in countries across the developed and developing world. Naturally, such a transition can have huge negative effects on political leaders’ own countries. But in today’s globalized world, the consequences of cronyism often extend beyond national borders.

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