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What drug lords learned from big business How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca- What drug lords learned from big business How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola.      And what can government learn to combat this scourge? By analyzing the cartels as companies, law enforcers might better understand how they work—and stop throwing away 100 billion a year in a futile effort to win the “war” against this global, highly organized business.      Your intrepid guide to the most exotic and brutal industry on earth is Tom Wainwright. Picking his way through Andean cocaine fields, Central American prisons, Colorado pot shops, and the online drug dens of the Dark Web, Wainwright provides a fresh, innovative look into the drug trade and its 250 million customers.      The cast of characters includes “Bin Laden,” the Bolivian coca guide; “Old Lin,” the Salvadoran gang leader; “Starboy,” the millionaire New Zealand pill maker; and a cozy Mexican grandmother who cooks blueberry pancakes while plotting murder. Along with presidents, cops, and teenage hitmen, they explain such matters as the business purpose for head-to-toe tattoos, how gangs decide whether to compete or collude, and why cartels care a surprising amount about corporate social responsibility. More than just an investigation of how drug cartels do business, Narconomics is also a blueprint for how to defeat them.


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What drug lords learned from big business How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca- What drug lords learned from big business How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola.      And what can government learn to combat this scourge? By analyzing the cartels as companies, law enforcers might better understand how they work—and stop throwing away 100 billion a year in a futile effort to win the “war” against this global, highly organized business.      Your intrepid guide to the most exotic and brutal industry on earth is Tom Wainwright. Picking his way through Andean cocaine fields, Central American prisons, Colorado pot shops, and the online drug dens of the Dark Web, Wainwright provides a fresh, innovative look into the drug trade and its 250 million customers.      The cast of characters includes “Bin Laden,” the Bolivian coca guide; “Old Lin,” the Salvadoran gang leader; “Starboy,” the millionaire New Zealand pill maker; and a cozy Mexican grandmother who cooks blueberry pancakes while plotting murder. Along with presidents, cops, and teenage hitmen, they explain such matters as the business purpose for head-to-toe tattoos, how gangs decide whether to compete or collude, and why cartels care a surprising amount about corporate social responsibility. More than just an investigation of how drug cartels do business, Narconomics is also a blueprint for how to defeat them.

30 review for Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com Having lived in a border-state since childhood, I've always been intrigued by Mexico and the plight of that country's citizens. When I was in high school (1990's), my friends and I would frequently lie to our parents and stay out all night, bar-hopping in Juarez. As an adult, I'd have a heart attack if I thought my children had done something like that. However, at 15 you feel pretty invincible and luckily my friends and I never got ourselve Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com Having lived in a border-state since childhood, I've always been intrigued by Mexico and the plight of that country's citizens. When I was in high school (1990's), my friends and I would frequently lie to our parents and stay out all night, bar-hopping in Juarez. As an adult, I'd have a heart attack if I thought my children had done something like that. However, at 15 you feel pretty invincible and luckily my friends and I never got ourselves into any serious trouble. By 2007, Juarez was dubbed the murder capital of the world. Mexico's drug cartels engaged in a brutal turf war. The violence was spilling over the border with increasing frequency. Kidnapping, torture and murder were commonplace. With a government plagued by corruption at all levels, the people of Juarez were at the mercy of the cartels, with nowhere to turn for help. Out-gunned and out-manned, legitimate law enforcement on both sides of the border are left impotent. 'Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel' shed a new light on the operation of drug cartels for me. I've spent plenty of time reading news articles outlining the shocking crimes committed by the cartels, but I can't say I ever had much of an understanding of the financial side of the illegal drug trade. Sure, I knew that it is a very profitable and dangerous business. I also understood basic principles of supply and demand. I just never went beyond "skimming the surface". The book is provides the account of a journalist that delves into the world of the narcos, applying economic principles to the drug trade. Using economic principles, the author is able to explain many of the driving factors that make the manufacture and sale of illicit drugs so lucrative. Political, cultural and geographic considerations are also touched upon, in order to provide a more comprehensive view. While I found this book to be very interesting, I have to admit that I often found myself bored. This probably has far more to do with my reading tastes, which strongly favor entertainment over enlightenment, than it does with the quality of this non-fiction work. That being said, take my rating with a grain of salt. If you're an avid non-fiction reader, this book might be a 5-star read for you. Overall, it was an "okay" read for me. Again, this is more of a reflection of my personal preferences than the quality of the content. I learned quite a lot from this book and looked at the drug trade through a new lens. Very interesting, but not an entertaining page-turner for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maria Espadinha

    The Importance of Not being Ernest When a not so brave journalist was sent to cover what is possibly the most brutal business on earth, the expected and obvious epilogue could be: On a (not such a) fine day, find him in the trunk of an anonymous vehicle, mummified in masking tape, as it happened to the majority of other inquisitive journalists like him. However, his moderate bravery made all the difference leading him to a happily ever after — this book 👍 Morals of the story: Number 1 - Since journa The Importance of Not being Ernest When a not so brave journalist was sent to cover what is possibly the most brutal business on earth, the expected and obvious epilogue could be: On a (not such a) fine day, find him in the trunk of an anonymous vehicle, mummified in masking tape, as it happened to the majority of other inquisitive journalists like him. However, his moderate bravery made all the difference leading him to a happily ever after — this book 👍 Morals of the story: Number 1 - Since journalists often get killed due to uncontrollable curiosity, they will probably be cats in (a fabulous form of) disguise 😉 Number 2 - Moderate bravery is a virtue to keep and cultivate cos it’s a source of multiple benefits into human lives 😉👍 That being said, get yourself ready to a guided tour into the adventurous World of Drugs! P.S.: After reading this review, you’ll be possibly wondering why did I choose such a weird title? Well... since Tom is the first name of the not so brave journalist (according to his own words cos I find him rather bold, don’t you?!), I strongly believe that my weird choice of title fits perfectly fine😉

  3. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    More addictive than a bag of illicit drugs (one can imagine), this book takes a look at the multi-billion dollar global drug industry in an entirely different way, viewing it as a business and showcasing its different business functions. Narconomics, the economics of narcotics, in other words. This is not just a book about drugs but a look at many areas of business and economics through a practical lens. It is all strangely addictive, informative and engaging. Tabloid newspapers need not fear; th More addictive than a bag of illicit drugs (one can imagine), this book takes a look at the multi-billion dollar global drug industry in an entirely different way, viewing it as a business and showcasing its different business functions. Narconomics, the economics of narcotics, in other words. This is not just a book about drugs but a look at many areas of business and economics through a practical lens. It is all strangely addictive, informative and engaging. Tabloid newspapers need not fear; this book does not advocate the taking of illegal drugs or put the drug cartels on a pedestal in any way. As a business worth conservatively over USD300 billion a year, clearly those running it know what they are doing. No matter about the law, you just cannot run something of this scale or size without having finely tuned structures in place. If anything, the operation could arguably be even larger and certainly more efficiently were it legal. You can look at the book in two distinct ways, either learning more about the global drugs trade and seeing how it uses big-business techniques to good effect, or you can use the examples given as a way to understanding business concepts that are often swaddled in theory and can be difficult to understand. It serves both well, packaged in an easy-to-read, informative form. The author shows how business practices such as mergers and acquisitions, competition and collusion, social responsibility, media relations, human resources, franchising and strong management oversight are used within the drugs business. You might not look at it in the same light ever again. You do not need to be interested in business to get a lot out of this book. It is great for a general reader and eminently suitable for anyone with an interest in business or the global drugs industry. Once you pick it up, it can be hard to put down though!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Blair Lochrie

    Despite reading cover to cover, I am no closer to establishing my own drug cartel. Apart from this dissapointment, I'd recommend the book. Despite reading cover to cover, I am no closer to establishing my own drug cartel. Apart from this dissapointment, I'd recommend the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cori

    First off: I'm not about to become the next El Chapo...El Chapa? Anyways. I had a couple reasons for reading this book. One: I was looking for books on economics, and this one kept coming up as an interesting substitute to typically dry textbooks. Two: understanding drug culture and understanding how to better fight it is incredibly handy in my line of work. So I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. I wasn't disappointed. At no point did I feel like this book was dry. It did take me a First off: I'm not about to become the next El Chapo...El Chapa? Anyways. I had a couple reasons for reading this book. One: I was looking for books on economics, and this one kept coming up as an interesting substitute to typically dry textbooks. Two: understanding drug culture and understanding how to better fight it is incredibly handy in my line of work. So I thought I could kill two birds with one stone. I wasn't disappointed. At no point did I feel like this book was dry. It did take me a while to get through it, but I think that has more to do with the busy-ness that is my life right now. Tom Wainwright initially came across as a bit of a pompous ass to me, but eventuallly that seemed to go away and I really enjoyed his perspective. I didn't agree with everything he had to say, but his perspective on the war on drugs was very unique. His suggestions were interesting and got me thinking a bit differently than I have before. It was mentally stimulating to see a perspective different than mine. On the downside, I felt like a lot of his solutions were lacking essential components or overlooking a huge issue. For example, his suggestion in preventing people being prescribed opioids was not to stop doctors from prescribing more opioids, but to put more money into treatment. He felt that stopping the prescription of opioids is what pushes these addicts to turn to heroin. While there is truth to that, it's only a solution to helping current addicts; it doesn't prevent new addicts from being made every day by the corrupt, or at time well-meaning, providers out there. That said, the concept that hitting the demand side of the drug economy rather than the supply side would fight the war in a potentiallly more powerful way...that has some weight to it. I'm mulling that over a lot. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It touched on a lot of relevant topics, especially in light of the new marijuana laws in a lot of states. I'd rate this book an R for blatant drug discussion, topics of cartel and gang violence, and other adult themes.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andrej Karpathy

    Once in a while you read a book that shatters your preconceptions and updates your world view. In the wonderful "Narcoeconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel", Tom Wainwright (an editor at The Economist), explores the narcotics industry through an economic lens. You'll see how drug cartels are much more like McDonalds or Walmart than you previously thought: optimizing their supply chains, competing, forming mergers, colluding, worrying about human resources, public relations and brand building, offs Once in a while you read a book that shatters your preconceptions and updates your world view. In the wonderful "Narcoeconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel", Tom Wainwright (an editor at The Economist), explores the narcotics industry through an economic lens. You'll see how drug cartels are much more like McDonalds or Walmart than you previously thought: optimizing their supply chains, competing, forming mergers, colluding, worrying about human resources, public relations and brand building, offshoring, franchising, investing in R&D, dealing with rise of disruptive online marketplaces, diversifying (kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking). You'll see flawed prison systems much more as recruiting grounds, jobs fairs or networking events. You'll see full-body tattoos as an employee retention strategy. By the end of it, you'll emerge with a more complete and coherent picture of the narcotics industry and its dynamics, understand why Nixon's war on drugs has been so ineffective, and maybe get a few hints of how we could do better. 5/5.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel, by Tom Wainwright, is a book that examines the modern drug business (both illegal and legal) in terms of actual business principles. What results is a fairly interesting and innovative book that mixes both journalistic style interviewing and reporting with business and economic principles (though these lightly). Wainwright starts off examining the point of origin, ie. Coca farms in Colombia and Bolivia, through the chain to the US border and the large recre Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel, by Tom Wainwright, is a book that examines the modern drug business (both illegal and legal) in terms of actual business principles. What results is a fairly interesting and innovative book that mixes both journalistic style interviewing and reporting with business and economic principles (though these lightly). Wainwright starts off examining the point of origin, ie. Coca farms in Colombia and Bolivia, through the chain to the US border and the large recreational drug market in the United States. While on the road, the book examines principles of the business world: supply management, human resources, offshoring, alternative products and diversification. From the supply side, Wainwright examines the mark up - mostly of cocaine. He starts in farms both illegal (in Colombia) and legal (in Bolivia) that grow Coca. These farms are often poorer, and leaves sell for as little as $100 for a large bundle. The mark up as it approaches the US border continues to increase, as various drug running gangs and cartels begin to take hold of the product, and the risk associated with it increases. The sale price in the US, after all is said and done, is astronomically higher (thousands of percentage points) over the original price. Drug cartels achieve similar mark ups to large corporations like WalMart - they put all the price fluctuations on the shoulders of the suppliers, and as retailers charge a fairly fixed rate through the massive mark up price. As Cartels control the supply, there is little room for competition to come in and undercut prices. The Cockroach effect is the end result of crackdowns. Most governments have been focusing on supply to combat drug trafficking. They spray pesticides over farms in Colombia, or send in soldiers to burn crops. This has very little actual effect on the price of the drug, and just like cockroach's, squash one farm and another will take its place. The second concept relates to collusion vs. competition. In recent years, many of the most violent gangs in Central America have declared truces and have divided up territory to try and reduce the horrendous amounts of violence occurring, for example, in El Salvador. Why? What is the incentive to cease violence in this sort of business. The obvious one is that it reduces the cost of training and recruiting new members. Collusion can also reduce the pressure governments put on drug gangs. No violence? No Problems! seems to be the motto. The third concept is Human Resources. Drug cartels employ many similar tactics as businesses when looking for recruits, although the tactics are obviously more extreme is some respects. Loyalty is important in most drug operations for obvious reasons. Therefore, it is important to ensure members are satisfied with their employment. High pay, vacations and other incentives are used to ensure members are well remunerated for their work. A high exit cost (in the form, often, of violence) is used to dissuade members from leaving. One of the cradles of any drug organization is prison. Ironically, the tough on crime stance often leads to tighter structural formations and greater loyalty to drug cartels and gangs. Prisoners receive protection and pay in return for working for cartels, and joining one can act as a buffer to the harsher realities of prison. The fourth concept is PR. Public relations is an important part of any business, and illegal drugs is no exception. Threats of violence or ISIS style videos of murders or violence deters those who act against the cartel, such as bloggers and politicians, as they are seen as a threat against profits. PR can work the other way, bringing folk-hero status to criminals and smugglers in certain areas of Mexico, through charitable donations and infrastructure projects that promote a cartels image. Finally, PR is an interesting weapon against rival cartels. Want a police clampdown in a rivals territory? Send in some goons to start some violence. Federal police will lock the area down, and drain resources from the rival cartel. An added bonus is that police are often pulled out of your own territory to assist. I won't continue much longer, but other concepts include offshoring of certain aspects of drug production, franchising to expand rapidly, diversifying to people smuggling and new drug avenues, the online drug marketplace and how it effects traditional markets, and the new legal high business, including legalization of marijuana and designer drugs that stay ahead of legislation. Wainwright's book offers a lot of interesting facts and figures in relation to the world of drug cartels. The way these cartels are organized is often synonymous with established business norms and strategies, albeit with a more sinister twist. Even so, each aspect is highly interesting, and Wainwright's mix of journalistic travelogue and hard facts can be quite good in places. The subtitle "How to Run a Drug Cartel" is not an apt choice, however. This book focuses more on regulatory reform options. Tackling the demand side of the drug economy instead of the supply side for example. Or offering rehabilitation for offenders over the prison incubation system that seems to be the norm currently. Wainwright is off to show that the war on drugs has been a failure. Prices have shot up to astronomical levels in recent years, which only squeezes addicts harder while bringing in larger profits for the more ruthless cartels who cannot be squeezed out through legislative measures. Was it a let down? No. I was expecting more of a book on business stratagems that a cartel uses, or its relations to established business practices. This is partially accurate. However, the regulatory bend this book took was much different from what was advertised on the cover. Suffice to say, this is an interesting read. It examines the business of drug cartels closely, and provides an entertaining account of the mysterious world of criminal cartels. This book can be recommended to those interested in the ongoing drug war, and those looking for an innovative read on business theory, albeit with a heavy dose of journalistic messaging.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Wainwright, an economist sent to Mexico to cover the drug wars for financial magazines, decided to apply business analysis after hearing cartel honcho after cartel honcho use business jargon to explain the trade--jails are human resource departments, there are franchises, there are advertising and media branding campaigns, even price collusions with rivals if the incentives are right. What ended up being really striking was the reminder not that cartels were putting on a veneer of corporatism, b Wainwright, an economist sent to Mexico to cover the drug wars for financial magazines, decided to apply business analysis after hearing cartel honcho after cartel honcho use business jargon to explain the trade--jails are human resource departments, there are franchises, there are advertising and media branding campaigns, even price collusions with rivals if the incentives are right. What ended up being really striking was the reminder not that cartels were putting on a veneer of corporatism, but that corporations had a better veneer over their violence.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ScienceOfSuccess

    Someone told me that economists can make everything sound boring, and it's true. You literally tell "how to run a drug cartel" but economic jargon and specific point of view make it kind of uninteresting. This book isn't bad, you get what was promised in the title, and there are even a few interesting statistics. Someone told me that economists can make everything sound boring, and it's true. You literally tell "how to run a drug cartel" but economic jargon and specific point of view make it kind of uninteresting. This book isn't bad, you get what was promised in the title, and there are even a few interesting statistics.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel [2016] – ★★★★1/2 The title should not frighten anyone because this non-fiction book will not involve any difficult finance theories or the like. In this book, Tom Wainwright looks at the functioning of a drug cartel from the point of view of an ordinary business. If we view drug operations through the same prism that we use to evaluate an ordinary company then maybe it will be possible to devise solutions that will actually reduce mobsters’ business and stop Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel [2016] – ★★★★1/2 The title should not frighten anyone because this non-fiction book will not involve any difficult finance theories or the like. In this book, Tom Wainwright looks at the functioning of a drug cartel from the point of view of an ordinary business. If we view drug operations through the same prism that we use to evaluate an ordinary company then maybe it will be possible to devise solutions that will actually reduce mobsters’ business and stop the reach of their operations. Wainwright embarks on his own exciting investigative work to show us how a drug cartel, like any other legal business, seeks to control the supply side, diversify, multiply its offshore locations to reduce its cost, as well as makes movements into the domain of the Internet to reach a wider pool of customers. Interesting comparisons are made with McDonalds, Walmart, Coca-Cola and Amazon, and, in light of these, Wainwright proposes unorthodox solutions to change policies to better tackle the issue. A dramatic and interesting picture emerges of the situation and functioning of drug cartels in the world. The author’s main argument is very simple – drug cartels function like any other business and the sooner policy-makers and enforcement agencies recognise this, the sooner the issue of crime operating on a global scale will be resolved. More efficient policies and actions may be devised to tackle the difficult problem if one realises that there is no use suppressing the supply side, economising on early interventions and preventative measures, and forsaking a global approach in favour of local initiative. To “prove” his argument, Wainwright goes on his own investigative journey to many dangerous places, showing how drugs move from their production origin, for example, on coca plantations in Bolivia, to them being sold for a price that much more than quadrupled on the streets of major European cities. Drawing comparisons with legal businesses, the author shows how Mexican cartels and their franchising can be equated with the operation and success of McDonalds, and how the control of supply chains by Colombian cocaine manufacturers can be compared to business operations of Walmart. Drug cartels also look to diversify, as Coca-Cola and Disney tried to do, sometimes with variable success. Wainwright further shows how prisons function as schools for criminals (hence, better jails disrupt drug cartel operations), and touches on the illustrious crime sprees of such big names in the global drug business as Pablo Escobar, “El Chapo” Guzman and George Jung. Cartels also use media and advertising like any other business to “soften” their image and reach many people, trying to gain some public acceptance (“drug lords have [also] used philanthropy to acquire an almost saintly status”, writes Wainwright, [2016: 104]), and the author further illustrates how the law lags behind innovations in drug compositions which means that there are always “legal” substances on the market that should really be banned. Finally, Wainwright touches upon the ever-growing power of the Internet, which revolutionises not only how legal businesses do their business but also how drug cartels operate, and brings attention to the issue of doctors sometimes being unwitting conspirators in getting their patients closer to being addicted to illegal substances (by overprescribing pain medication), benefiting drug cartels in a long-run. One of the great things about this book is that the author not only explains his “thesis” in a clear way, but also provides recommendations and solutions that stem directly from the realisation that drug cartels operate like any other business. Some of his recommendations may be counter-intuitive, but since no existing policy against drug cartels had a complete and undeniable success so far and, taking into account the fact that drug cartels are adaptable and their methods are ever changing, it may really be the time to finally rethink the policy and go for an unorthodox solution to the problem. Wainwright writes that it is by reshaping the market, rather than by shutting it down completely, that the results will be achieved: “unless there is a radical change in strategy, business conditions for the mafia will remain promising” [Wainwright, 2016: 286]. Narconomics is an insightful book, but some of its sources could have been more credible (there are some anecdotal evidence), and there could have been less repetition. Wainwright’s ultimate suggestion on how to improve the situation regarding drug operations in the world is also a bit unrealistic. Wainwright’s book is interesting, persuasive and easy to read, sometimes making very eye-opening observations on the nature of drug cartel operations. This may really be the book about drug cartels you never knew you wanted to read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    11811 (Eleven)

    Outstanding analysis of how cartels operate and why the war on drugs has been and continues to be a dismal failure. Easy read. Recommended.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Excellent book about narcotics' economy. Excellent book about narcotics' economy.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Clausen

    The book is exactly what is advertised, a look at the drug trade through economics principles. For this reason, the book suffers some of the limitations of its perspective as well the limitations of a book that does journalism on something clandestine. The adage, "economists know best" isn't one I would apply to many things on life, but in this case the perspective does add some "value added" to the overall picture. As someone who has read research that has applied economic answers to the proble The book is exactly what is advertised, a look at the drug trade through economics principles. For this reason, the book suffers some of the limitations of its perspective as well the limitations of a book that does journalism on something clandestine. The adage, "economists know best" isn't one I would apply to many things on life, but in this case the perspective does add some "value added" to the overall picture. As someone who has read research that has applied economic answers to the problems of revolution and other types of violence, I can appreciate what is being argued here. I can especially appreciate a book that leaves the language of moral crusade to the side. That being said, the research always has to be one degree separated from the realities of the cartel business. The author is able to get some interviews with the people in charge, and he is also able to expertly use the research of others to show how the cartel trade often struggles with run of the mill business problems, but this is not super-grounded research (I wouldn't even want it to be that, since it would put the author's life in danger). However, insights extrapolated from research papers on networks and other esoteric issues seem less persuasive, as does the use of statistics, which by Wainwright's own admission, vary wildly in their accuracy because of the clandestine nature of the drug business. In short, there is a working paper here, an editorial maybe, but not really an authoritative book. The recommendations the book comes up with, however -- specifically, the one to focus on the demand side of the business instead of the supply side -- are enormously helpful and supported by the research of the book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melissa McCauley

    A fascinating look at the multi-billion dollar international illegal drug industry. It shows how cartels use tactics of all big businesses: advertising, brand loyalty, customer service, gaining market share, etc. But with guns. And knives. And explosives. The author amply demonstrates how traditional drug enforcement policies are completely inappropriate responses to the epidemic and encourages readers and lawmakers to think more like economists.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Allan

    A really interesting Audible listen on all aspects of the drug trade, from the infamous Mexican cartels to the legalised marijuana market in certain US states with many stops in between, detailing the story behind them as well as explaining the reasoning behind the economics of the business in the language of the multinational conglomerates that many of the businesses are.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nashwa S

    This was an amazing book! A great insight into how the drug cartels operate especially if you compare them to legitimate businesses - you will see a lot of similarity. It was like watching an extremely well-researched documentary unfolding discussing how cartels manipulate the media, start opening franchises and break into new markets. It also talks about how governments can operate global efforts to curb this multi-billion dollar drug industry.

  17. 5 out of 5

    3thn

    Fantastic book that approaches the drug trade through an economist's lens. From comparing global cartels to Walmart and McDonald's, there are plenty of fascinating parallels. Also, having watched both seasons of Narcos, this seemed like a perfect How It Works companion. Fantastic book that approaches the drug trade through an economist's lens. From comparing global cartels to Walmart and McDonald's, there are plenty of fascinating parallels. Also, having watched both seasons of Narcos, this seemed like a perfect How It Works companion.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pallavi Bichu

    An in-depth treatise on the business of drugs, from the suppliers in LatAm to the end consumers in rich Western countries, Narconomics is a stunning piece of economics in action. Wainwright writes engagingly and with his share of fun puns, and you are never bored. This is like a long chapter of Freakonomics, but the length allows the writer to make his case with enough evidence to convince the reader. By making policy recommendations and backing those up with examples where they have worked, Wai An in-depth treatise on the business of drugs, from the suppliers in LatAm to the end consumers in rich Western countries, Narconomics is a stunning piece of economics in action. Wainwright writes engagingly and with his share of fun puns, and you are never bored. This is like a long chapter of Freakonomics, but the length allows the writer to make his case with enough evidence to convince the reader. By making policy recommendations and backing those up with examples where they have worked, Wainwright gives credence to the theory of legalization and a host of other seemingly far-out solutions to tackle the huge problem of the narcotics industry, possibly one of the biggest global challenges facing the world today. An enlightening must read if there ever was one!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sean Goh

    I salute Wainwright's ballsyness for going in deep with cartel people and writing about their business practices, especially for the country where journalists are silenced with extreme prejudice. If only economics textbooks were this interesting. ___ A steer has to be slaughtered, butchered, shipped, seasoned, grilled and served before it is worth $50 a slice. For this reason, no analyst of the beef industry would calculate the price of a live steer mooching around on the Argentine pampa using res I salute Wainwright's ballsyness for going in deep with cartel people and writing about their business practices, especially for the country where journalists are silenced with extreme prejudice. If only economics textbooks were this interesting. ___ A steer has to be slaughtered, butchered, shipped, seasoned, grilled and served before it is worth $50 a slice. For this reason, no analyst of the beef industry would calculate the price of a live steer mooching around on the Argentine pampa using restaurant data from NYC. Yet this is effectively how the value of heroin seized in Afghanistan or cocaine intercepted in Colombia is sometimes estimated. In reality, drugs have to go through a long value-adding chain before they reach their final "street price". The drug market is more like the art market, in which the tiny cost of the raw materials is insignificant compared with the high price of the finished product. Attempts to raise the price of cocaine by forcing up the cost of coca leaves is a bit like trying to drive up the price of art by raising the cost of paint. The requirement for a gang member to cover his body in tattoos declaring his allegiance to the gang make defecting to a rival gang out of the question. This illiquidity allows the cartels to keep their wages low. It is true that brutality is an essential part of the business: because criminal organisations cannot use the legal system, violence is the only way for them to enforce contractual agreements. Providing meals in-house has removed one of the biggest sources of prison contraband, smuggling weapons or drugs into the jail, hidden in bags of rice or baked into loaves of bread by visiting family members. Spending a few extra cents a day to provide each prisoner with a bowl of rice and beans - an apparently "soft" measure - means that those prisoners no longer have such easy access to knives, guns and narcotics. The taxpayer may not like paying for criminals' lunches, but beans are cheaper than metal detectors. Prison is fabulously expensive. Sending a teenager to jail costs more than it would to send him to Eton College, the private boarding school in England that educated Princes Harry and William. It makes sense to make prison less harsh too, as prisoners react to ugly, dangerous surroundings by joining criminal groups that offer them protection and privileges. The more responsible the state is in providing public services, the less room there is for the mob to show off its own phony 'responsible' side. Planes smuggling drugs frequently make crash landings. With aircraft costing several hundred thousand dollars, this may seem like a serious loss. But the economics of the cocaine business means this hardly matters. The loss of a half-million dollar aircraft will add an extra $1000 to each of the 500 or so kilos it can carry. Those kilograms retail for $100,000 once they reach the US. Therefore abandoning a plane every trip adds about 1% to the final price. According to the UN, New Zealanders smoke more marijuana per person than any other country (1 in 7). Under a regulated market, manufacturers would have a powerful incentive to perfect (and patent) drugs that were less harmful and more satisfying to customers. This is contrast to banning psychoactive substances, which causes companies to constantly innovate to push out product that has not been banned yet, side effects be damned. Increased enforcement through border patrols has helped to turn a cheap service that most migrants ignored into a very high-earning one that nearly all of them decide to purchase. By making it harder to cross the border, the service coyotes provide has become more necessary. The margin between an effective dose and an overdose of heroin (6 to 1) is higly than any other mainstream narcotic. Alcohol (10 to 1), cocaine (15 to 1), LSD (1,000 to 1). Marijuana: virtually impossible to overdose. When it comes to fighting crime, money is no object - as long as it is spent on enforcement, rather than prevention (visibility bias).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Trevyn Hubbs

    This book is more like an introduction to business course, with examples drawn from the producers, distributors, and suppliers of illegal drugs. Prepare for terms like 'monopsony' and 'collective action problem'. I loved it, finding the read very enjoyable and educational. The main point of the book is to explain how fighting the drug trade is like squeezing a balloon--when you put pressure on it in one place, it will expand somewhere else. This is, as long as demand remains strong. Cutting forei This book is more like an introduction to business course, with examples drawn from the producers, distributors, and suppliers of illegal drugs. Prepare for terms like 'monopsony' and 'collective action problem'. I loved it, finding the read very enjoyable and educational. The main point of the book is to explain how fighting the drug trade is like squeezing a balloon--when you put pressure on it in one place, it will expand somewhere else. This is, as long as demand remains strong. Cutting foreign production and supply will prove an expensive and ineffective tactic as long as domestic supply is strong. And according to Wainwright's numbers, it is indeed. After reading books like 48 Laws of Power and the Dictator's Handbook, I've been opened up to the idea that people are motivated by personal gain and self preservation more often than they are motivated by high-minded ideals. When you look at the drug trade as a business and observe human behavior outside the rule of law, interesting things happen. Rather than assume drug dealers and cartels are just bad people, different than you and me, Wainwright offers a ground level view of what motivates them, and It's not much different than regular business-just a bit less constrained by governmental checks.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Interesting book analyzing the illegal drug trade as a business with economic indicators such as supply and demand, quality control, market competition and product distribution. Drug cartels must also try to keep up with emerging technologies and online retailing. The book is well written and brings up some alternative ways of looking at the drug trade and ways of controlling it. As a side note, it was revealing to watch the Netflix show Narcos while reading the book. Pablo Escobar was a signifi Interesting book analyzing the illegal drug trade as a business with economic indicators such as supply and demand, quality control, market competition and product distribution. Drug cartels must also try to keep up with emerging technologies and online retailing. The book is well written and brings up some alternative ways of looking at the drug trade and ways of controlling it. As a side note, it was revealing to watch the Netflix show Narcos while reading the book. Pablo Escobar was a significant player in both the book and the series.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jay Bhatt

    The author has done an amazing work towards mapping out things. From selecting your target audience, adjusting to regulations, establishing a company culture while hiring, catering to different types of clients for different business, disruption themselves to gain during legalisation of drugs in the states, there are a lot of things here to learn about supply chain, and how to survive its disruption as well, because cartels always stand their ground, and the author very intricately describes the The author has done an amazing work towards mapping out things. From selecting your target audience, adjusting to regulations, establishing a company culture while hiring, catering to different types of clients for different business, disruption themselves to gain during legalisation of drugs in the states, there are a lot of things here to learn about supply chain, and how to survive its disruption as well, because cartels always stand their ground, and the author very intricately describes the how!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Philip Joubert

    3.5 stars This book could have been so much more. The book is positioned to make intellectuals feel smart, in the same way that Why We Sleep and Sapiens does, but ultimately it never really reaches those heights. Criticisms aside, you'll learn a thing or two about why the war on drugs is such an abysmal failure. Wainwright also does a good job of sketching the major "trends" in the reactional drug industry (e.g. legalization, designer drugs) and explores what their impact on the industry will be. 3.5 stars This book could have been so much more. The book is positioned to make intellectuals feel smart, in the same way that Why We Sleep and Sapiens does, but ultimately it never really reaches those heights. Criticisms aside, you'll learn a thing or two about why the war on drugs is such an abysmal failure. Wainwright also does a good job of sketching the major "trends" in the reactional drug industry (e.g. legalization, designer drugs) and explores what their impact on the industry will be.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ian .

    Great reading after watching Narcos, El Chapo and Escobar in Netflix. Not one of those hands on "for dummies" book but gives a good overview how stuff works. Good comparisons with legal corporations like McDonalds, Coca Cola etc. Great reading after watching Narcos, El Chapo and Escobar in Netflix. Not one of those hands on "for dummies" book but gives a good overview how stuff works. Good comparisons with legal corporations like McDonalds, Coca Cola etc.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amir Sarabadani

    I recommend this book to everyone, if you don't have time to read it. Only read the last chapter as the summary. I recommend this book to everyone, if you don't have time to read it. Only read the last chapter as the summary.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maurício Linhares

    Must read, period. Whether you care about the war on drugs or take drugs or live in this planet you should read this book. Tom goes through all the ways drugs are part of society, how the drug cartels are run like multinational businesses, how populations are affected and how whole countries have been destroyed by the so called "war on drugs". He covers how every single suppression policy has only moved the drug problem to another country, how the costs of keeping all these prisons only go up an Must read, period. Whether you care about the war on drugs or take drugs or live in this planet you should read this book. Tom goes through all the ways drugs are part of society, how the drug cartels are run like multinational businesses, how populations are affected and how whole countries have been destroyed by the so called "war on drugs". He covers how every single suppression policy has only moved the drug problem to another country, how the costs of keeping all these prisons only go up and all the many, successful, policies that do not involve shooting people in the jungle. Better yet, he does this all with an economics perspective, showing how the numbers and investment that countries make right now just do not make sense in any way. Seriously, this is mind blowing, I had no idea we were all so fucked. Please educate yourself on drugs and help make this planet a better place. As an extra you'll understand how the Trump wall will never work.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Taking a run at the global narcotics industry from an economic point of view is certainly illuminating, but the book's conclusions are nothing new. It's an interesting overview, but not a game changer. Worth mining for arguments to deploy against your "shoot the Bali 9" National Party-voting uncle at Christmas, though. Taking a run at the global narcotics industry from an economic point of view is certainly illuminating, but the book's conclusions are nothing new. It's an interesting overview, but not a game changer. Worth mining for arguments to deploy against your "shoot the Bali 9" National Party-voting uncle at Christmas, though.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Breakingviews

    By Martin Langfield In “Narconomics,” journalist Tom Wainwright applies the logic of business to the bloody world of drug cartels. His book is both an extended black joke and a hard-headed analysis of the economics of getting high. The “war on drugs” is a fiasco, he writes; legalization offers hope of a more effective, rational approach. Wainwright, a former Mexico correspondent for the Economist, examines how a global industry with annual revenue of $300 billion and hideous levels of violence has By Martin Langfield In “Narconomics,” journalist Tom Wainwright applies the logic of business to the bloody world of drug cartels. His book is both an extended black joke and a hard-headed analysis of the economics of getting high. The “war on drugs” is a fiasco, he writes; legalization offers hope of a more effective, rational approach. Wainwright, a former Mexico correspondent for the Economist, examines how a global industry with annual revenue of $300 billion and hideous levels of violence has grown from the commercialization of just a few cheap agricultural products. Cocaine, he writes, undergoes a 30,000 percent markup on its journey from remote Latin American farmland to U.S. city streets. World taxpayers spend at least $100 billion a year trying to fight the trade, with little effect on the number of consumers. Drug cartels, though, face challenges that many regular multinational companies would recognize, from managing personnel and navigating government regulations to finding reliable suppliers and dealing with competitors. Their responses often echo those of major corporations. Like Wal-Mart Stores, for example, cocaine manufacturers have protected profit by tightening control of their supply lines. R&D spending has made the production process more efficient. Mexican cartels such as the Zetas have expanded on a franchise basis, in a similar way to McDonald’s. Offshoring offers opportunities, too. Poor Central American countries such as Honduras can provide even cheaper labor and more accommodating regulatory environments than Mexico. Diversification, for example into smuggling people or kidnapping, can boost revenue when traditional lines of business mature. Competition from online suppliers, though, is a threat. Wainwright is sardonically funny at times describing the problems drug gangs face in the spheres of human resources and public relations. Staff turnover, through arrest or death, can be a challenge. Lacking access to courts, dispute resolution is often a grim affair. The humor comes with a serious purpose, though. He takes data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, which ranks countries on their suitability for (legitimate) business, and turns it inside out to produce a “Cartel Competitiveness Report.” Low regular rankings on metrics such as judicial independence, police reliability, pervasiveness of bribery and business ethics suggest exactly where drug gangs will do best. The absence of basic state institutions, indeed, is one factor that allows cartels to prosper, presenting themselves as an alternative source of protection, law and even housing and schools. In some parts of Latin America charitable donations made with drug money, known as “narcolimosnas,” may be virtually the only money in town. Governments make four big mistakes trying to tackle the drugs trade, Wainwright says. They focus overwhelmingly on suppressing supply rather than addressing consumption. They also skimp on cheaper measures such as addict treatment, prisoner rehabilitation and jobs programs but spend heavily on enforcement. Uncoordinated national laws and approaches allow cartels to easily indulge in regulatory arbitrage. And above all, they falsely equate prohibition with control, handing billions of dollars in revenue to violent though sometimes sophisticated thugs. In this regard, events in the U.S. marijuana industry are illuminating. A study by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO), for example, attempted to calculate the likely effect on U.S. weed prices of internal smuggling from the states of Colorado and Washington to the rest of the country after they legalized the drug. Working on the basis of a wholesale price of $2,000 per kg (which most Colorado growers said it cost to make their own batches), adjusting for product purity and factoring in a price rise of $500 for every 1,000 km that marijuana travels within the United States, the study found that U.S. weed would be cheaper than the Mexican cartel-supplied variety in 47 of the 48 mainland states. Only in Texas, right on the border, would the drug gangs offer better value. IMCO reckoned the cartels stand to lose nearly 75 percent of their revenue from U.S. marijuana, even before more states legalize. Looking ahead, Wainwright sees marijuana moving ever more into the legal arena, in the United States and elsewhere, leading to a logical outcome of lawful production shifting from an initial U.S. base back to cheaper Mexico. Even former Mexican President Vicente Fox, he notes, says he might grow it if it were legal. Other more dangerous drugs require a different approach, he argues, though still one that moves away from prohibition. A Swiss program focusing on the country’s most hardcore heroin addicts, for example, allows doctors to administer the drug in controlled settings. The result has been a big dip not only in national use but in crime and dealing, as the biggest users would also deal or steal to fuel their habits. Wainwright doesn’t have all the answers to a complex problem that raises anger and passion. His rational, market-based approach is far from glib, though. An entertaining read, “Narconomics” is also thoughtful and in many regards persuasive.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Manolo González

    A very interesting book, a lot of numbers and stadistics and. A focus that i'd never thought about drugs and it's economical impact on society. It's kind of easy to read (my first book about this subject). A very interesting book, a lot of numbers and stadistics and. A focus that i'd never thought about drugs and it's economical impact on society. It's kind of easy to read (my first book about this subject).

  30. 5 out of 5

    Simon Kao

    Humbling ride, this book provides insightful knowledge on how to sought out, execute, and maintain a successful, rewarding and legit business/career, upping your financing game in life.

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