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Book Review - Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

Economics applied to the Drug Industry.

I recently finished reading How to Run a Drug Cartel by Tom Winwright, the British editor of The Economist. I quite enjoyed reading it, and it brought an interesting, and mostly fresh, perspective on the drug industry.

The most I’ve really seen of the impact of real Economics on the drug industry is some of the arguments in favor of legalizing Marihuana in the United States, but this book applies traditional economic thinking to all sectors of it, from the supply side where the U.S. traditionally wants drugs to be fought (e.g. Colombia), to the cartels in Mexico and the Carribean, to the internet marketplaces and the demand-side in the U.S. and Europe.

There are interesting and compelling explanations of why policies implemented by various countries do and don’t work to accomplish their goals and a few policy recommendations back by arguments about their economic impact.

In particular I found striking the treatment of the cartels in Mexico and their impact on the country around them, as well as their striking similarity to multinational corporations in a variety of way.

I think the book is best enjoyed with a bit of background in Economics (but a high school class was good enough for me), as a comparison to the legal industries similar to the drug industry. It’s one of the better nonfiction books I’ve recently read.