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When Mother Nature Attacks

Suicide... 1 in 121

Car accident... 1 in 247

Pedestrian accident... 1 in 608

_____Unconventional Wisdom_____
The Salmon Effect (The Washington Post, Dec 19, 2004)
Stay in School (And Out of the Maternity Ward) (The Washington Post, Dec 5, 2004)
Dramatic Influences (The Washington Post, Oct 24, 2004)
Previous Columns
E-mail Rich Morin at morinr@washpost.com.

Complications from medical or surgical care...1 in 1,222

Riding a bike... 1 in 4,663

Falling from a ladder or scaffold... 1 in 8,412

Legal execution... 1 in 58,618

Being buried alive in a cave-in or landslide... 1 in 65,945

Dog bite... 1 in 147,717

Fireworks accident... 1 in 615,488

Taking a Bite Out Of Bank Mergers

Want to get tough on crime? Get tough on bank mergers, suggest two economists who argue that property crimes increase in communities when banks and other types of financial institutions combine and competition decreases.

"Neighborhoods that experienced more bank mergers are subjected to higher interest rates, diminished local construction, lower prices, an influx of poorer households, and higher property crime in subsequent years," assert professors Mark J. Garmaise of UCLA and Tobias J. Moskowitz of the University of Chicago.

The economists acknowledge that the effect of mergers on property crime is small but clearly important to local residents. "Applying our results to national crime figures from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the mean decline in banking competitiveness due to mergers from 1992 to 1995 that we document is associated with approximately 24,300 more property crime offenses over the period 1995 to 2000 across the U.S.," they claim in a newly published working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Moreover, they found that greater competition had the opposite effect: States that deregulated branch banking, leading to the proliferation of neighborhood lending institutions, saw an increase in the supply of locally available credit and a reduction in future property crime, they claim.

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