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Some conservative economists argue that corruption can be benign, or even beneficial, as it enables economic actors to bypass regulations, thereby enabling markets to function more effectively. While there may be instances of benign corruption, the truth is that corruption corrodes markets, protects incumbents from competitive challenges by impeding the entry of new actors, destroys the moral fabric of society and stunts economic development. Indeed, as Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index shows, there is a strong inverse correlation between development and corruption.The data also suggest that the common belief that corruption is hardwired in some societies does not stand up to scrutiny. Corruption levels can and do change, at times quite sharply. A couple of centuries ago, corruption was rampant in countries like the United Kingdom, which today ranks 11th on the CPI. Corruption can implicate even those who would prefer to operate according to the law, especially in countries where it is endemic.But the mere fact that I was put in that position shows just how easily corruption can proliferate, especially in a context where it is already an embedded part of everyday life.
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