The Dark World: The Biggest Crime

by Jeff Abbott on December 29, 2008

We’ve all heard about Bernard Madoff’s alleged fraud that lost investors over $50 billion dollars. In a brutally honest way, Dallas Morning News columnist Scott Burns puts the crime in perspective by comparing Madoff’s thefts to property crimes:

In 2006, the report shows nearly 10 million crimes against property and losses of $17.6 billion. Similarly, the 2005 report shows nearly 10.2 million crimes against property and a total loss of $16.5 billion.
Add the three years and you get $51.7 billion. Using that value, the losses Bernard Madoff may be responsible for equal all the losses caused by all the conventional thieves in America for nearly three full years.

For crime writers, this one is going to be hard to top. But Burns is right as he goes on in his article–the bigger blow of Madoff’s supposed crimes is to trust and confidence. When we lose trust that even highly regarded investments are dubious, it’s a body blow to the economy. Investment drives innovation. Investment is what has kept America moving. And Madoff–once head of NASDAQ–had the trust of leading banks and savvy investors. No one questioned him; they were blinded by his consistently market-beating returns.

Much of what is happening in what I call the Dark World–the vast underworld of interconnected illegality that seems to be rising like a new force in this new century–is an erosion of trust in our institutions. When trust is one set of institutions is gone, another set of institutions and power structures will rise to take its place. And there lies opportunity.
I guarantee you bad guys are studying, in detail, what Madoff did and how his scheme can be improved upon.

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