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Drug trafficking, money laundering and the business cycle. Does secular stagnation include crime?

The aim of the paper is to analyze theoretically and empirically the impact the macroeconomic cycle has on the accumulation of capital by organized crime, using estimates for the global drug market. So far the economic literature has neglected the relationships existing between illegal markets, money laundering, and the business cycle. We propose a dynamic model where the business cycle influences the criminal economy via two different channels. On the one side, illegal markets grow at variable rates, depending on the health of the legal economy. Secondly, a pass-through effect can exist, since the business cycle affects the legal markets which criminal operators use to launder their revenues. Furthermore, we analyze the consequences of a “saturation effect” limiting maximum accumulation of illegal capital. We find that overall illegal capital is affected by the business cycle through a capital multiplier; in addition to this, the dynamics of interest rates in financial markets can influence such multiplier.

Barone, R., Delle Side, D. and Masciandaro, D., 2018. Drug trafficking, money laundering and the business cycle: Does secular stagnation include crime?. Metroeconomica, 69(2), pp.409-426.