Thu, 10 Feb|
Cosa Nostra Courts
Henry A. Thompson, Graduate Fellow, F.A. Hayek Advanced Program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, George Mason University, United States
Date & Location
10 Feb 2022, 16:00 – 17:00 GMT
Cosa Nostra Courts
This paper uses economic reasoning to analyse the traditions and institutions of one of the most successful criminal organizations in modern American history: La Cosa Nostra (LCN). Drawing on recently declassified FBI reports, the paper’s analysis shows that LCN’s core institutions are best understood as attempts to protect its secrecy, an asset vulnerable to free riding by its own members. Individual members did not bear the full costs of secret-revealing police investigations and thus had a perverse incentive to resolve disputes violently. LCN preserved its secrecy by incentivising peaceful reconciliation. La Cosa Nostra rules, and, more importantly, its informal court system, kept disputes from escalating into violence, thereby helping LCN avoid secrecy-threatening investigations. Such institutions helped LCN to become one of the most successful and long-lived criminal organisations in the U.S.
Henry A. Thompson, PhD Candidate, Graduate Fellow, F.A. Hayek Advanced Program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, PhD Candidate, Department of Economics, George Mason University, United States
Henry Thompson is an Economics PhD candidate at George Mason University and a Graduate Fellow in the F.A. Hayek Advanced Program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics. He researches the alternative customary, organizational, and contractual arrangements societies develop when they cannot use government institutions to protect their property rights. His current research project focuses on how illegal markets, despite having no formal governance, are both robust and employment rich. He holds an M.A. in Economics from George Mason University and two B.A.s from Clemson University, one in Economics and one in Political Science.