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Pirational choice: The economics of infamous pirate practices

Listed author(s):
  • Leeson, Peter T.

Abstract This paper investigates the economics of infamous pirate practices. Two closely related economic theories--the theory of signaling and the theory of reputation building--explain these practices. First, I examine the pirate flag, "Jolly Roger," which pirates used to signal their identity as unconstrained outlaws, enabling them to take prizes without costly conflict. Second, I consider how pirates combined heinous torture, public displays of "madness," and published advertisement of their fiendishness to establish a reputation that prevented costly captive behaviors. Pirates' infamous practices reduced their criminal enterprise's costs and increased its revenues, enhancing the profitability of life "on the account."

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 76 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 497-510

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:497-510
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169-169.
  2. Fraas, Arthur G & Greer, Douglas F, 1977. "Market Structure and Price Collusion: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 21-44, September.
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  5. Peter T. Leeson, 2007. "An-arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 1049-1094, December.
  6. Peter Leeson, 2009. "The calculus of piratical consent: the myth of the myth of social contract," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 443-459, June.
  7. Leeson, Peter T., 2010. "Rational choice, Round Robin, and rebellion: An institutional solution to the problems of revolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 297-307, March.
  8. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1999. "Reputation and Imperfect Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 238, David K. Levine.
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  11. Varese, Federico, 2001. "The Russian Mafia: Private Protection in a New Market Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198297369, December.
  12. Juin-Jen Chang & Huei-Chung Lu & Mingshen Chen, 2005. "Organized Crime or Individual Crime? Endogenous Size of a Criminal Organization and the Optimal Law Enforcement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 661-675, July.
  13. Garoupa, Nuno, 2000. "The Economics of Organized Crime and Optimal Law Enforcement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(2), pages 278-288, April.
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  15. Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1997. "Predation, reputation , and entry deterrence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1460, David K. Levine.
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