Across the world, politically connected tycoons are feeling the squeeze May 7th 2016
TWO YEARS ago The Economist constructed an index of crony capitalism. It was designed to test whether the world was experiencing a new era of “robber barons”—a global re-run of America’s gilded age in the late 19th century. Depressingly, the exercise suggested that since globalisation had taken off in the 1990s, there had been a surge in billionaire wealth in industries that often involve cosy relations with the government, such as casinos, oil and construction. Over two decades, crony fortunes had leapt relative to global GDP and as a share of total billionaire wealth.
It may seem that this new golden era of crony capitalism is coming to a shabby end. In London Vijay Mallya, a ponytailed Indian tycoon, is fighting deportation back to India as the authorities there rake over his collapsed empire. Last year in São Paulo, executives at Odebrecht, Brazil’s largest construction firm, were arrested and flown to a court in Curitiba, a southern Brazilian city, that is investigating corrupt deals with Petrobras, the state-controlled oil firm. The scandal, which involves politicians from several parties, including the ruling Workers’ Party, is adding to pressure on Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who is facing impeachment on unrelated charges.