Narconomics Book Summary - Narconomics Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro
00:00

Narconomics summary

Tom Wainwright

How to Run a Drug Cartel

4.5 (49 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

Narconomics by Tom Wainwright sheds light on the economics of drug cartels and offers insights into how legalizing drugs might impact the global economy.

Table of Contents

    Narconomics
    Summary of 9 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 9

    The US government’s efforts to attack the supply side of the drug industry are flawed.

    It was in 1971 that then-US President Richard Nixon launched the “war on drugs.” Between then and now, drug incarceration rates have shot up exponentially in the United States. But the amount of drugs being produced and consumed globally has not decreased; in fact, there’s more money in the drug market right now than ever before. How is this possible?

    Presumably, the US government wanted to tackle the drug problem at its root. As such, drug policy has been designed to attack the drug industry in one area – supply. Take crop dusting in South America, for instance.

    South American countries are an important source of many of the drugs that enter the United States. So, the US government entered into agreements with these nations to crack down on the farming of coca leaves by “crop dusting” them – that is, spraying pesticides on crops from low-flying planes to destroy them. This seems like a logical fix, right? After all, it’ll be harder for the drug industry to flourish if it doesn’t have the supply to meet demands.

    Unfortunately, things aren’t so simple. This approach has led to what researchers call the balloon effect. The phenomenon gets its name from the way that when one part of a balloon is squeezed, the air inside moves, but the volume of the air itself doesn’t decrease.

    Like air inside a balloon, cartels can also move around, in this case from one area of South America to another. When one government cracks down on coca crops, cartels just pack up and move to another country. As a result, the problem keeps moving around, but never really disappears.

    That’s not the only issue with the US government’s approach. Their supply-side attack targets farmers, without ever directly confronting cartels or consumption – two aspects without which the drug industry wouldn’t exist.

    Cartels can be described as monopsonies, that is, single buyers. Cartels decide how much to pay farmers, who are essentially at their mercy. By targeting impoverished farmers and not the cartels, the US “war on drugs” hardly gets to the real root of the problem.

    What’s more, when supplies decrease, consumers become okay with paying more for the same amount. Therefore, yearly revenue generated from drugs will remain the same or grow, even if supply decreases.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Narconomics?

    Key ideas in Narconomics

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Narconomics about?

    Narconomics (2016) gives us a tour of the business side of the $300-billion global narcotics industry. From human resources to PR to franchising and diversification, these blinks show how drug cartels run their operations not unlike highly successful businesses. By exploring the economic phenomena at work behind the world’s drug problem, the author presents new insights into how governments can defeat it.

    Narconomics Review

    Narconomics (2016) explores the economics of drug cartels and reveals fascinating insights into the global drug trade. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a striking analysis of drug cartels as businesses, uncovering the surprising parallels with legitimate companies.
    • With its top-notch investigative journalism, the book offers a captivating look into the drug world, exposing the intricacies of its operations.
    • Through compelling storytelling and thought-provoking research, it challenges conventional thinking and sheds light on the effectiveness of different drug policies.

    Best quote from Narconomics

    These two conundrums – how to hire staff, and how to make sure they do what they are told – are what occupy drug cartels human-resources managers.

    —Tom Wainwright
    example alt text

    Who should read Narconomics?

    • Students looking for fascinating applications of micro and macroeconomics
    • Readers interested in alternative perspectives on social issues
    • Anyone curious as to how the narcotics industry really works

    About the Author

    Tom Wainwright is the UK editor for the Economist magazine. As a journalist and correspondent, he has also formerly covered Mexico and Central America for the Economist. His writing has been published in the Times, the Guardian, and the Literary Review.

    Categories with Narconomics

    Book summaries like Narconomics

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Narconomics FAQs 

    What is the main message of Narconomics?

    The main message of Narconomics is that understanding the economics of drug cartels can help combat the global drug trade.

    How long does it take to read Narconomics?

    The reading time for Narconomics varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Narconomics a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Narconomics is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on the dynamics of the drug trade. It's definitely worth reading for anyone interested in understanding this complex issue.

    Who is the author of Narconomics?

    The author of Narconomics is Tom Wainwright.

    What to read after Narconomics?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Narconomics, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari
    • The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber
    • Franchise Your Business by Mark Siebert
    • Scarcity Brain by Michael Easter
    • It's Not You by Ramani Durvasula
    • The Upside of Your Dark Side by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener
    • Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki
    • Speed Reading by Kam Knight
    • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
    • The Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett