Crime Does Pay: GDP Revised to Include Property Crime

Jan. 2, 2045
WASHINGTON DC–Officials at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, a division of the Department of Commerce responsible for calculating Gross Domestic Product, a measure of economic activity, recently decided to include the value of all property crimes in the important measurement. Minutes of December meetings among executive officials reveal that key members of the Bureau had reached a broad consensus on the inclusion of the figures, which are quite high and, after revision of calculations of GDP for past years, reveal a staggering growth rate in the past 40 years.

Harvard economics professor W. Earnest Peak explained at a recent advisors meeting that “property crime-chiefly theft, but also graft, bribery, and embezzlement-should be viewed as services akin to those offered by professionals in the legal, medical, and psychotherapeutic industries.”

It seems that property crime, when calculated as a component of GDP, offers a particularly great boost because the service involved, while fairly risky to practitioners, has a particularly high rate of return, dwarfing even the fat margins enjoyed by software conglomerates. Property crime, as an industry, also enjoys a low barrier-to-entry. Though not everyone can easily engage in high-level political graft, the average, young entrepreneur can begin snatching purses, and executing home invasion burglaries with a nearly insignificant initial capital outlay.

While the inclusion of property crime values in revised calculations of historical GDP has shown a much greater rate of growth over recent decades than was previously thought, it has also radically altered views of historic, non-inflationary growth during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The widely venerated leadership of long-time U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is cast in a different light.

While economists have historically credited Chairman Greenspan with facilitating a sustainable, non-inflationary growth rate significantly higher than was thought conventionally possible, they now recognize that the concurrent and precipitous decline in property crime rates was what permitted the apparently impossibly high growth rates. “What we thought was very high growth was actually, in context, pretty tame,” noted a Commerce Department spokesman. ” Inflation was kept under control because of the collapse of the crime industry nation-wide.”

No administration official will go on the record calling for an increase in theft to stimulate the economy, but most acknowledge privately that they are doing what they can to ensure that graft and bribery rates remain high. Barring a groundswell in grassroots shoplifting and petty theft, however, the activities of a few officials can do little by themselves to resuscitate the economy. “Let’s hope for a good Christmas season; there’s always lots to steal around the holidays,” offered an unnamed Commerce attorney participating in the decision.