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Time to clear the underbrush of bribery

New efforts around the world signal a moment to make headway against corruption

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Stories telling how employees of the just shuttered “The News of the World” newspaper in Britain had possibly colluded with Scotland Yard in inappropriate ways, including payments to police, are just one recent troubling example of corruption in business and government. One need only Google “bribery” for plenty of other fresh examples around the world.

Ironically, Britain just put into effect July 1 a new Bribery Act that aims to clean up its ways of operating. It’s the latest follow up to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which has had a worldwide effect by demanding that US businesses not pay bribes overseas.

The extent of global corruption is undoubtedly massive, though hard to quantify. How much more does a project cost because of invisible bribes? What worthless “white elephant” projects are approved?

Such corruption can scare away foreign investment and reduce economic growth. A corrupt country’s economic growth rate can be .5 to 1 percentage points lower than that of a similar country with low corruption, according to the World Bank.

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