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Call It Corruption

The Wall Street Journal has a boffo take on corruption as a macroeconomic drag. The story is about Greece, but the methods are applicable worldwide, and in places like Baltimore. Leaning on forthcoming research from the Brookings Institution and reports from Transparency International, the story links Greece's culture of corruption to its flagging tax collection and impending bailout. Key quote:

That should sound familiar to Baltimoreans, and Americans in general. There's a chart alongside the

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WSJ

piece depicting levels of corruption in many countries, along with their debt burdens. The United States falls somewhere in the middle. Daniel Kaufmann, the Brookings guy cited in the story,

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that ordinary measures of corruption focus too tightly on the crude cash in an envelope variety. More attention, he says, should be paid to "legal" corruption like regulatory capture:

Perhaps coincidently, today is the day former Washington Mutual executives get grilled in congress (

) about the collapse of their once-giant bank. As usual, the bosses say their plan would have worked if not for those meddling government regulators. The reality is quite different, as exposed in this

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from the other day. That story focuses on the battle between two regulators—the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation:

The

L.A. Times

has the

on it, noting in its story yesterday that the OTS examiners who actually did their jobs were disparaged by their own government bosses:

The full report, released today, is

. The hearings are going on right now. If you're reading this after April 16, here's a link to the

.

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