crony capitalism
n. A capitalist economy in which business contracts and appointments are awarded to friends and family rather than by tender or merit.
Most of these oft-stated causes for the Asian currency crisis — alleged corruption, crony capitalism, lack of transparency — are now familiar to anyone who has followed developments in the region.
—Hardev Kaur, “S-E Asia — battleground for developed nations,” Business Times (Malaysia), February 09, 1998
Financial firms are being required to use internationally accepted accounting procedures and to disclose far more data than they ever have before. The new rules are intended to expose the kind of under-the-table deals that have long fueled Asian economies while enriching the politically connected. Real regulation is being imposed, including bank supervisors who are supposed to make sure that money is being lent to sound projects, rather than to cronies.

But this new regime of openness in business, and a war on crony capitalism, requires a huge cultural change in the way Asia has always operated — a change that is hard to impose from half a world away.
—David E. Sanger & Richard W. Stevenson, “Second-Guessing The Economic Doctor,” The New York Times, February 01, 1998
1981 (earliest)
Officials claim that the state will sell its interests when stability returns, but critics say that this is nothing less than de facto nationalization. One thing has not changed in Philippine business: Marcos' pals are still running the companies. Crony capitalism is thus turning into crony socialism.
—“Friends in Need,” Time Magazine, August 24, 1981
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