Crime doesn’t pay. At least, not in a slowdown. Europe’s recent economic crisis pinched the mafia quite badly. So much so, that a jailed Cosa Nostra capo from Palermo, Sicily, has been caught on tape complaining that “business”—extortion, as ‘protection money’ demanded from local businesses—is so poor that it would be better for younger clan members to “get real jobs” instead. The Independent reports that a jailed senior member of the Porta Nuova clan was secretly recorded lamenting that many of the targeted businesses had closed down while some refused outright to pay. Hit by poor ‘earnings’, the Cosa Nostra had its own spending review a year back and allegedly cut hand-outs to junior members and family members of those jailed, leading to a backlash from the latter.
Among the Euro nations, Italy’s economic health has been especially poor—after three years of recession, growth picked up just last quarter, with the GDP up by 0.1% from the quarter before. However, the latest figure is still 0.8% lower than the one in the corresponding period last fiscal year. Analysts had predicted a boom for the crime syndicates, who are also active in informal lending. The belief was, with the recession, cash-strapped businesses would approach them for credit. But thankfully, the case isn’t so. If at all, as the Palermo probe shows, the eurozone recession has been a blessing in disguise, dealing a crushing blow—via poor incomes and internal rebellion—to the crime families. When the going gets tough, well, in this case, the ‘tough guys’ better start ‘applying’.