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From Correspondence

Of course, everyone enjoys the money! So better here in America — or with an American, albeit not a very good one as stood beside American ideals and rule of law — than elsewhere and someone else. I’ve been shrugging away these themes for a while for being too large for any one person to address and seek to ameliorate. Those involved are the wealthy of the world, and no matter how they made their money, they’re powerful. 😦

Narcissistic leaders want to create, sustain, and leave for prosperity their own great image; they also want to remain in power without price, and for that, some, as dictators do, become as if forces of nature, heartless, unstoppable, ruthless.

Associated with the Conversation

We had been chatyping about DJT, the inferential references to corruption, money laundering, and Russian connections came to mind, so one look-see on the web and a five minutes later I had a starting overview on that subject, which is here listed below (with additions).

True take: free-wheeling American real estate business rides on ambition, caveat emptor, and wealth with the freedom of the seller’s not having to look too closely at The Money, which is in the end and for everyone involved and beyond . . . just money — but oh such a lot of money!

Call corruption the “Cancer of States” and consider that behind “dirty money”, however laundered, lays not only the wreckage of families, government, and lives but an intense leveraging of business and political power. The term “too big to fail” comes to mind, for the measurement of occult wealth, i.e., the contribution of illegal (at worst) and questionable (at best) “fund raising” seems to me an issue avoided by power itself, not that the subject has gone unnoticed.

The informal economy, also known as the underground economy or the black market, makes up a significant portion of the overall economy. It is estimated to be as much as 36 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of developing nations and 13 percent of developed countries’ GDP.1 However, as an article by Economist Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria in The Regional Economist points out, measuring the informal economy is quite difficult.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. “How to Measure the Black Market.” May 18, 2015.

For probably all the right ambitious, emotional, and practical reasons, most may shrug off the little bit of grease and leaning — the gifts, the open arms, the warm handshakes; the aggressive marketing or “salesmanship” that nudges with a little bit of caution — that gets business done while facilitating access to new opportunities and relationships — but with too much of the same, the bodies, destroyed businesses and careers, and ruined lives show up visibly everywhere, and that little bit of smarmy activity becomes a tangled and suffocating web.

The matter of observing and measuring atrocious, ruthless, and vicious business behavior and its behavioral, economic, and social effects on societies not accustomed to their own dumb and hapless enslavement through malicious handling would seem another matter, and most certainly a matter of keen interest to economists, ethicists, and the public at large. With that in mind, one might suggest that Moscow’s “Mafia State” and Trump’s egregious approach to those apparently not fit to shine his shoes has set off for general rule the presence of some global and criminal or near-criminal nobility far above the constitutions, interests, and laws of states and their constituencies.

Davidson, Adam. “Where Did Donald Trump Get Two Hundred Million Dollars to Buy His Money-Losing Scottish Golf Club?” The New Yorker, July 13, 2018.

Frank, Thomas. “Secret Money: How Trump Made Millions Selling Condos to Unknown Buyers.” Buzzfeed, January 12, 2018.

Henry, James S. “The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections.” The American Interest, December 19, 2016.

Kumar, Anita. “Real estate mogul Trump sold condos to regime-connected Venezuelans.” Politico, August 4-8, 2019.

Landay, Jonathan. “Sales of Trump properties suggestive of money-laundering: researcher.” Reuters, January 18, 2018.

Layne, Nathan, Ned Parker, Svetlana Retter, Stephen Grey, Ryan McNeill. “Russian elite invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings.” Reuters Investigates, March 17, 2017.

Unger, Craig. “Trump’s businesses are full of dirty Russian money. The scandal is that it’s legal.” The Washington Post, March 29, 2019.

Unger, Craig. “Trump’s Russian Laundromat”. The New Republic, July 13, 2017.

Craig, Susanne, Jo Becker, Jesse Drucker. “Jared Kushner, a Trump In-Law and Adviser, Chases a Chinese Deal.” The New York Times, January 7, 2017.

Goodman, Ryan, Julia Brooks. “Timeline on Jared Kushner, Qatar, 666 Fifth Avenue, and White House Policy.” Just Security, March 17, 2020.

Helmore, Edward. “Jared Kushner’s company under renewed scrutiny over Chinese and Israeli deals.” The Guardian, January 8, 2018.

IMDB. Netflix: “Dirty Money: Slumlord Millionaire”, Season 2; Episode 3.

Kwong, Jessica. “Jared Kushner-Linked Chinese Executive Sentenced to Prison for Massive Fundraising Fraud.” Newsweek, May 10, 2018.

Lash, Herbert. “Kushner, Anbang end Manhattan tower talks, other talks emerge.” Reuters, March 29, 2017.

Luhn, Alec. “Who is Sergei Gorkov, the powerful Russian banker who met Jared Kushner?” The Guardian, June 3, 2017.

Wikipedia. “Dirty Money (2018 TV series).

On Russia’s Mafia State and Donald Trump’s Business History

Galeotti, Mark. “Gangster’s paradise: how organised crime took over Russia.” The Guardian, March 23, 2018.

Johnston, David Cay. “Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?” Politico, May 22, 2016. As a companion to Cay’s piece: Kruse, Michael. “The Muckraker Who Tormented Trump.” Politico, January 20, 2017.

Nevzlin, Leonid. “The Result of 20 Years of Putin: Russia as a Mafia State.” IMR: Institute of Modern Russia, January 24, 2020.

While the Russian mafia is a favorite antagonist of Hollywood screenwriters, it is thought to be all-but-defunct in reality. After all, when was the last time anybody in the U.S. heard about major Russian mafia activity?

The criminal underworld is thriving like never before in Europe. The individuals and groups are not random; they are highly organized, well-funded and responsible for rising levels of cyberterrorism, money laundering and murder. Fortune Magazine lists the Solntsevskaya Bratva, alternately known as the Russian mafia, as the largest organized crime group in the world and it ranks above both the Japanese Yakuza and the Mexican Sinaloa cartel in terms of overall revenue. More interesting than its current standing is how it achieved its status. From a culture that encouraged crime to a government that aided and abetted it, the Russian Federation has become a hotbed for a growing criminal underworld.

McIlvenna-Davis, Dylan. “Gangs and Gulags: How Vladimir Putin Utilizes Organized Crime to Power his Mafia State.” Berkeley Political Review, October 9, 2021.

Posted by CNBC to YouTube July 30, 2021.

Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. “Election Security VS. Reality.” Last updated September 23, 2021.

July 16, 2018.