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It doesn't (always) pay to be a Bond villain

James Bond and Auric Goldfinger in "Goldfinger."

"Skyfall," the latest James Bond movie, is still going strong. It was second at the box office over the Thanksgiving weekend.

We saw an article in Vulture that we just had to follow up on -- it's about the economic viability of the nefarious plots those Bond villains come up with. Jean-Jacques Dethier is an economist and research manager at the World Bank, and he says most of those plots won't actually make all that many Benjamins.

Dethier's favorite Bond film (and the one he says features the most economically viable plot) is "Goldfinger." The villain (the eponymous Goldfinger) plots to take over Fort Knox and irradiate all the gold stored there. The goal is to make Goldfinger's own gold worth more. The only problem says Dethier? All that gold is stored in New York, not at Fort Knox.

There's a similar problem in "A View To a Kill," where the villain, played by Christopher Walken, tries to take control over the micro-chip industry by creating an earthquake to destroy Silicon Valley. Except...most micro-chips aren't made California, they're made in places like China.

Sensing a pattern here? Dethier says he's not surprised that so many Bond villains resort to creating monopolies to gather wealth because "that's the theme of economics to a large extent. Once you have an innovation...some invention, you want to monopolize it and if you don't have it, you want to steal it."

And Hollywood, take note: Dethier says if he were to imagine his devious Bond villain plot, it would probably have something to do with China.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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