The Somali pirate school of economics

While Somali pirates are regularly portrayed as vicious aggressors, they are also canny businessmen who have smartly figured out the way trade is flowing, and how to get their share.

As Somali pirates become ever more audacious, they are regularly portrayed in the press as vicious aggressors, taking innocent people hostage, only to auction them off at vast ransoms. There is much truth in that: on Thursday one pirate band hijacked a US-bound oil tanker even as it emerged that another had killed two Filipino crewmen in late January after a botched rescue mission. But there is another way to assess these buccaneers: as businessmen, who have smartly figured out the way trade is flowing, and how to get their share.

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