In This Review

Wages of Crime: Black Markets, Illegal Finance, and the Underworld Economy
Wages of Crime: Black Markets, Illegal Finance, and the Underworld Economy
By R. T. Naylor
Cornell University Press, 2002, 320 pp

Written by a Canadian economist, this book offers informative chapters on the financial aspects of guerrilla movements, illegal transactions in weapons, bank secrecy and money laundering, and the underworld of gold. It is a useful compilation of material drawn largely from public sources. The author draws attention to the long-standing and widespread use of "charities" (not only by Arabs) to support political dissidents and armed resistance. He also warns that police officials of many countries have used the recent terrorist attacks and the Bush administration's position on terrorism to get authorization for actions they have wanted for years -- and these have little to do with apprehending terrorists. He persuasively registers deep skepticism regarding the current emphasis on blocking financial flows as a means to stop terrorism, pointing to the damage such efforts can do to legitimate business activities, particularly in informal sectors. But he underestimates the potential intelligence value of tracing financial flows.