Funny Money

December 31st, 2009

By Brianna Aubin

SomaliPirateExchWell, I’ve been here for about four months now, and in those four months I’ve managed to make a lot of posts about economic doom and gloom.  And while it’s all unfortunately very true, it does tend to get a bit stale after a while.  So I thought to round off the end of the year I’d counterbalance that a bit by making a slightly more light-hearted post about the economy and the workings of the free market.

In Haradheere, Somalia, piracy has become a flourishing new industry, complete with its own stock exchange.  From a Reuters report:

One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.

“Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 ‘maritime companies’ and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking,” Mohammed said.

“The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials … we’ve made piracy a community activity.”

The article goes on to explain that piracy is not only the center of their new stock exchange, it’s the base of the Haradheere economy.  Even their public infrastructure benefits: when a successful hijacking is pulled off, the district gets a percentage of the proceeds, which then goes to pay for hospitals, schools, and other aspects of the public infrastructure.  The part of town that hosts the stock exchange is constantly busy and bustling, filled with people seeking to invest, collect payouts, and receive news of their relatives, friends, and investment recipients out on the boats.  You don’t even need to contribute in cash to make a significant payoff; one woman managed to make $75,000 in less than two months after investing a RPG in one of the ships, which she received in an alimony payment from her late husband.  As for worries about the law, apparently the official government is too busy with Islamist rebels to bother themselves over this curious mixture of capitalism and criminality.

Needless to say, this isn’t quite the free market I think of when I agitate for free trade, sound money, and the repeal of government intervention in the economy.  Nor is it really a good thing with regards to international shipping and trade.

Sure is fun to read about though.

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Categories: Economics, News, Politics | Comments (3) | Home

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3 Responses to “Funny Money”

  1. Tom |

    These primitive people in their leaky boats are making the civilized world look foolish indeed. The U.S. and other navies ought to do more patrolling in those waters than they are now, and they ought to be sinking these idiots.

    An RPG as an alimony payment? Why didn’t I ever think of that….

  2. Harvey |


    If it wasn’t from you I’d say this was a joke.

    I had thought of pirates as ignorant, drooling murderers but, besides that, they apparently have a quite creative side.

  3. Brianna |

    Well, if I’m joking, Reuters started it 🙂

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