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Odd Lots: Why Negotiating a Ransom Is the Trickiest Trade in the World

And how insurers navigate it.
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Every week, hosts Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway take you on a not-so-random walk through hot topics in markets, finance, and economics.

There are all sorts of reasons why markets break down. A lack of trust. Incomplete information. Divergent incentives. Few experienced actors. So it's hard to imagine a trickier market than kidnapping. Emotions are running rampant. You know very little about your counterparty. And there's no guarantee that anyone will stick to an agreement.

On the third and last episode of our series exploring markets and crime, we speak with Anja Shortland, who is the research group leader for Political Economy of Peace and Security at King's College in London, about the economics of ransom payments, which she terms "the trickiest trade in the world." We talk about the role of kidnapping insurance and professional negotiators - and the huge mistake that most cinematic depictions of kidnapping make.

 

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