Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Pyramid Scheme

"Corrrrr......Blimey DM! $30,000,000,000 to $50,000,000,000  $40,000,000,000 to $70,000,000,000 ?!??!!!!" That's what some were estimating the Mubarak family has smashed-n-grabbed (and pilfered and extracted) from three decades as errr.... ummm...Beach King in the land of the Pyramids.

That seems like a lot of zeros, at least in comparison to Ben Ali (and his wife's family) who are reputed to have walked off with $3,000,000,000 to $5,000,000,000, though they are comparable on a per capita basis insofar as  Egypt's 85mm population is roughly proportional to Tunisia's 10mm inhabitants.

Russia's kleptocrats, by the same measure, seem positively munificent in their relative financial benevolence, even without eye-poppingly large round estimates.

Keeping consistent with comparisons, the piggiest, however, seems to be the recently deposed Dr Ewart Brown of Bermuda, who according to critics is reputed to have extracted some $300,000,000 to $500,000,000 on a lilliputian population base of a mere 60,000 island folk. This is approximately $6,000 per head taking a modest midpoint, versus the Mubarak clan's almost $600 per head or Ben Ali's more modest $400 per head "contribution" (on similar midpoints).

In all fairness, Bermuda's 2008 GDP per capita was an eye-popping world-beater at $94,000, making their contribution to Dr Brown's retirement fund (should he survive an almost certain imminent audit) a mere annoyance at 6.3%, not far off US State sales tax levy.  Ben Ali's was a more substantial 10% tariff, not even half of the Egyptian leader's near 22% of GDP per capita. Of course one might counter that the former army officer toiled long and hard (or long anyway) for more than 30 years picking up those wads of large notes along the way to presumably stash in UBP where his daughter serves on the Board, though few of his opponents would cite longevity as one of his virtues. Finally, when one considers that the size of the average Egyptian household is substantially larger than the average Bermudian one, the size of his take per household appears even more egregious in relation to per capita GDP. And we roll our eyes at Mssr's Clinton and Blair's multi-zeros bouquet per speaking engagement!!

Pyramid scheme indeed!!


Tom said...

You're clearly very naive about how much is being stolen out of Russia.

"Cassandra" said...

Do please leave us all some number estimates for Mssrs Putin & Medvedev, and for the kleptocracy as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious where you received the numbers for Bermuda. I lived there from 2008 to 2010 and heard rumblings from government insiders that he had stolen in the hundreds of millions - which is exactly inline with your post - but haven't yet seen any published evidence. I wouldn't doubt it for a second, though, as their accounting shenanigans and corruption make Greece's look like child's play.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, seems a bit unfair when you didn't present any. But I really like the writing style on this blog, so I'll hack together an argument.
First pass - before the dismantling of the USSR, the populace owned 100% of all socialised/public assets (in theory, admittedly). Afterwards, unless they were an "oligarch", they owned 0%. If this seems a bit silly, I think it's reasonable to consider that the reverse process (as Conquest has detailed) was much more painful (for the poor, as if that needs saying). So surely that's a good thing?
I don't doubt you may be right, but the occasional number would help, especially when I assume the majority of Russian wealth is coming from gas and oil profits. Do they have Mom & Pop oilwells (those dipping Texan things) in, say, Sverdlovsk. I'm guessing not.


Jim said...

Do you have a source for your number from Egypt, Cassandra?

Anonymous said...

like everything else on this blog, this is pure fiction disguised as journalism.

Anonymous said...

Gaddafi might have to run to Mama with his $140 billion :,0

Anonymous said...

Hi Cassandra

Please pay us a visit.

Anonymous said...

There's no way Ewart Brown's take was that big. He probably took less than 1/10th of that much.

What's your source? Tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists don't count.

Guy F. Burgess said...

Again, I'd like some source on Bermuda. That is far beyond any of the public scandals which put the amount in the low tens of millions at absolute most.