Off-the-book employment and the black economy
On Saturday, May 28th, at the catacombs of San Gennaro in Naples we hosted a round-table discussion on the issue of submerged economy, as an introduction to the Festival of Economics in Trento. Here is a short report.
According to Naples' Federico II University, the total value of the "pizzo" [protection money paid by a business to organized crime, usually coerced and constituting extortion] around the cities of Naples and Caserta amounts to about 1,120 million Euro. This estimates comes from judicial documents drafted by the district attorneys of the two cities from 1990 to 2009. And each year in Sicily the Mafia cashes in about 950 million Euro, according to research by the Istitute Antonino Caponnetto. Franco Roberti, district attorney in the nearby city of Salerno, was one the first officials to carry out an investigation against the Casalesi clan. In his speech, he explained: "What we call camorra today is not just a criminal organization, but a service agency acting as some kind of alternative to public institutions, able to govern people’s destinies, economics, and politics."
One of the pillars of this submerged economy is counterfeiting. For example, a blank DVD costs 30 cents and is sold at 5-6 Euro after being copied: “Not even drugs have such high mark-ups: today, counterfeiting is the core business of mafia-related criminal organizations," underlined Roberto Rossi, general of the custom police and member of the SCICO (Central Service for Organized Crime Investigation). Last year the Italian custom police seized 110 million counterfeit or dangerous products for the sake of people’s health: at least 40% of them were unsafe and probably contained toxic substances. Luciano Brancaccio, researcher at Naples' Federico II University, detailed the direct linkage between the entrepreneurial camorra and the "magliari", an International network managing the illegal trade of clothing. By analyzing the family tree of major clans in the greater Naples area, Brancaccio focused his attention on the Licciardi family: they are among the criminal groups who emerged in the Naples suburbs during the 1970s and are rooted in the magliari practices. Vincenzo Moretti, a sociologist and author of "Bella Napoli", a book about the magliari history, quoted renowned writer Italo Calvino and insisted that che “we must do the right thing, because that is how you do it." Luca Meldolesi, professor of political economy at Federico II University and who, for decades, has been involved in exposing these submerged economic activities, said: “After many years of attempting to work with public institutions, we are now targeting the private sector." In wrapping-up the event, Carlo Borgomeo, president of the Fondazione con il Sud, pointed out: “We must be aware that any social and developmental initiative has an organized hierarchy opposing them."