Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Access money — funneling cash to government officials in return for favors — is the dominant form of corruption in both China and the U.S., according to groundbreaking research by University of Michigan political scientist Yuen Yuen Ang.

Why it matters: Until now, international corruption comparisons were largely confined to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which views corruption as a third-world problem through Western eyes.

For her new book — "China's Gilded Age," published in July — Ang measured corruption in four categories:

  • Petty theft (shaking down people for small bribes) ... grand theft (shaking down businesses for large bribes) ... speed money (paying money to get necessary government approvals) ... and access money (paying money to be able to influence politicians).
  • In both China and the U.S., access money was the dominant mode of corruption.
  • China scores 7.6 out of a maximum 10 on the prevalence of access money; the U.S. scores 6.9 out of 10. By comparison, Singapore scores 3.7 and Ghana scores 5.8.

Go deeper: To see "access money" in action, check out this weekend's N.Y. Times investigation (subscription), which found hundreds of examples of businesses attempting to curry favor with President Trump — often with remarkable success — by spending money at his properties.

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Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Oct 22, 2020 - Economy & Business

Goldman Sachs settles Malaysian bribery case for $2.9 billion

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay more than $2.9 billion to the U.S. government to settle charges surrounding its role in facilitating the $6.5 billion 1MDB fraud.

The big picture: The fine comes after Goldman previously agreed to pay Hong Kong regulators $350 million, and another $2.5 billion to the government of Malaysia, plus the restitution of $1.4 billion in assets.

Pence to continue traveling despite aides testing positive for COVID-19

Marc Short with Pence in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force. Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning, according to the vice president's office.

AOC: "Extremely important" that Biden offer Bernie Sanders a Cabinet position

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that she believes it's "extremely important" that Joe Biden offer Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders Cabinet positions if he's elected president.

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez was pressed repeatedly on policy differences between her and the more moderate Biden, including her opposition to fracking and support for Medicare for All. She responded that it would be a "privilege" and a "luxury" to be able to lobby a Biden administration on progressive issues, insisting that the focus right now should be on winning the White House.