We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Crony Capitalism?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Crony capitalism is a condition in which participants in an economy rooted in capitalism earn and manipulate favor with one or more government entities. The favor is generally not based on quality or merit; instead the relationship is normally based on political posturing that results in both the capitalists in business and the government officials determine such a relationship would be mutually advantageous. In the worst examples, this variant of capitalism creates a situation where taxes collected from citizens are used to purchase overpriced goods and services from favored suppliers, who in turn influence the creation and application of laws impacting business operations.

The basic function of crony capitalism is similar to that of cronyism. With cronyism, two or more businesses effectively form a working relationship that closes the marketplace to competing entities. Often, the business climate is made so unpleasant that newer companies are unable to connect with the target market and are effectively run out of business. With crony capitalism, this same set of circumstances also exists, but adds the factor of the manipulation of a government agency to maintain what amounts to a shared monopoly of the marketplace.

In general, the businessmen and businesswomen who function as cronies within crony capitalism relationships are much more concerned with personal interests that with the general health of the economy or the welfare of consumers. They may seek to use their government ties to initiate new tax laws that will drive competitors out of business while at the same time seeking tax concessions that help to reduce their overall tax burden. Favored capitalists may also seek special privileges when it comes to mergers, securing government contracts, and obtaining permits on localized operations anywhere within the nation.

While referred to as crony capitalism, the concept effectively negates the basic tenets of capitalism. By attempting to control the marketplace, businesspeople who engage in this sort of activity prevent the growth of free enterprise and can sometimes create circumstances that have profoundly negative consequences for consumers and the economy in general. In many countries around the world, efforts to pass legislation that limits the practice of cronyism and crony capitalism have provided some success in containing the phenomenon.

However, crony capitalists can often identity and implement ways to circumvent the restrictions of laws aimed at limiting the incidence of crony capitalism. In some cases, they are able to manipulate the laws as a means of gaining an unfair advantage at the expense of another company or sector of the population. For this reason, the battle to minimize or eliminate crony capitalism from any capitalistic economy remains a difficult task.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon86257 — On May 24, 2010

Your definition is imprecise. In crony capitalism, cronies (businessmen with mutual business interests) support each other, to the detriment of specific markets, and specific investors (George Bush's Harken Energy is a good example: it was propped up by Bush sr.'s cronies, and investors were soaked, because they thought it was a good investment, even though it was kept artificially afloat).

No government agency or entity advanced Bush jr.'s company, merely his dad's business contacts.

I've noticed a recent seeming attempt to rebrand "crony-capitalism" to fit the current administration, when the last president was a prime example, before he took office. It's a sad commentary on the current hyper-polarized political climate, that conservatives think this rebranding will last.

By anon76548 — On Apr 10, 2010

Capitalism nearly always sides down the slippery slope to Crony Capitalism unless barriers to this are made.

Immediately the cronies cry "communism" if a move is made to protect the public.

McCarthy was a terrorist for the cronies. No communist threat actually existed in the US but fear was spread and millions reacted disgracefully.

The test is, can capitalist be protected as a tool to further all of society or does the greed of a few have to wreck the system for others? At the moment the greed of a few has wrecked the system and people will have to be strong to fight the greedy who have taken control.

Another puppet for sick corporate greed waits in the wings for the American people to be weakened and confused from their little show of strength last election. He/she may be worse than bush who is an international joke and America is the butt of it.

Slogans and name calling are spread by the unthinking, the greedy and the scared.

America is in conflict over whether inequality is fair and just or just plain greedy and stupid.

Test question: "Does it hurt to share a little or is that a weakness?"

By anon60490 — On Jan 14, 2010

So there is a name for what our government and some businesses are doing. Thanks

By xathos — On Oct 13, 2009

Thank you, that was very enlightening. I'm assuming that at the moment, America is a good example of crony capitalism. I'm fully supportive of capitalism in principle (and also of idealistic communism), but I'm sick and tired of the corrupt system that we currently have now. I wasn't aware that this had a name, however. I had previously simply been calling it "corrupt capitalism". Thanks so much for the clarification; this also informed me about some things I didn't know about before.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.