Economies - national or global - run best when not greased by corruption. In fact, kickbacks and bribes are more like sand, ultimately clogging the gears of commerce.
But such practices remain ingrained in many parts of the world. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which lend money to developing nations, have adopted a policy of using their financial leverage to encourage anticorruption efforts within countries. The IMF recently suspended a loan to Kenya, for instance, after its government reneged on a commitment to form a new agency to ferret out corruption.
The international lenders have concluded that bribery and other corruption undercut their investments.
Another campaign to dislodge corruption is waged by Transparency International, an independent monitoring group, using negative publicity instead of financial clout. It has been issuing Corruption Perception Indexes for the past three years. These spotlight the countries with the worst records for corruption. The data comes from a survey of business people who deal with the countries.
This year Denmark ranked highest on the index, with the least corruption, and Nigeria occupied the cellar. No surprises there. The US ranked 16 places below Denmark on a list of 52 nations. Russia was near the bottom, as was Mexico.
Corruption can only thrive when it's quietly tolerated. We thank Transparency International for turning a light on the problem. And the IMF and World Bank for helping prove that corrupt practices don't, ultimately, pay. No one, including Nigerian officials who claim things are improving in their country, wants to be seen lugging around the economic albatross of official corruption.