I recently watched The Purge 2, which inspired me to write this question. If every year, on a non holiday (e.g. not Christmas), the government made any crime excluding assaulting government officials and using explosives legal from 7 pm to 7 am, what would the affects on US economy leading up to, including, and directly after this period of time be?

I imagine people would be frantic to get to their homes and help their families (unless their goal was to kill them) and weapons purchases would rise before the purge.


Law enforcement are not available and hospitals are closed for the duration of the event, however, military are activated to protect government officials and clean up the following morning. I should also probably say that important structures to out national infrastructure are protected by military. So no hitting a nuclear reactor or blowing up a sky scraper.

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    $\begingroup$ Would previous offenders of the law be freed to join in whoever commits crimes in these 12 hours? (e.g. prisoners let to commit more cirme). $\endgroup$ – Zizouz212 Sep 28 '15 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ Prisoners are restricted to committing crimes against those in their cells. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Sep 28 '15 at 14:04
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    $\begingroup$ @DanSmolinske you're not missing much. It had so much potential but ended up being so utterly predictable and poorly executed that I didn't even watch the sequel. Very interesting premise though! $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Sep 28 '15 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ Is there any particular reason government officials should be excepted? $\endgroup$ – Beta Sep 28 '15 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan - I did not downvote, but I suspect it is because there are a million scenarios that could occur, and they would differ greatly between even neighborhoods across the country. I will give a go at an answer, though, when I have some time. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Sep 28 '15 at 20:06

16 Answers 16


The economic effect would be enormous. Movies like the Purge focus on physical crime like murder, larceny, robbery, rape, etc. Arson is a bit different though since people with agendas against specific businesses could destroy millions or tens of millions of dollars in assets and inventory in a single night.

With the exception of arson, blue-collar crimes in and of themselves don't have a huge effect on the economy when compared to white-collar crime like embezzlement, insider trading, bond fraud, insurance fraud, or fraud in general.

Oligarchs could just not pay their employees during the Purge period and save millions or tens of millions of dollars in wages. Likewise, employees could loot their places of work then sell the goods on the black market.

Even if business weren't looted or destroyed, the costs of increased security would weight heavily on business, affecting their profitability for that quarter.

Having a Purge period would definitely instigate significant instability in the economy.

Take this scenario:

A disgruntled high-frequency trading developer decides that he isn't getting paid enough for the 80-hour workweeks that management has been pushing on him recently. So, he installs a small, innocuous-looking trigger set to sell all his company's stock and bond assets then transfer the funds to a multitude of off-shore accounts that will make tracing incredibly difficult. Better still, transfer some of the funds to his boss' off-shore accounts to implicate them too. While this developer can't be prosecuted for his crime, the damage he inflicted on his company and all his company's customers is enormous.

By the Tenth Purge Day

After ten years of the Purge, individuals, groups, and companies have adapted to 12 hours of mayhem. Security best practices for financial information and transactions have been implemented. Banks put all transfers on hold till the morning (as much as law permits). NYSE and Nasdaq suspend all off-hours trading.

The security industry has seen a huge boom over the last ten years and charges exorbitant rates for their services on Purge night (in much the same way that pyrotechnics companies can charge large amounts for their services on the 4th of July).

Known violent psychopaths, serial rapists, and other violent criminals are put into protective custody for the duration of the Purge. This way, the criminals can't perform more crimes and the families/friends of their previous victims can't take revenge.

The general consensus is that the Purge is a bad idea. The costs and damage involved don't justify the 12 hours of freedom that a few psychopaths and criminals enjoy.


The vast majority of people have intact senses of empathy. Even if it were legal for them to murder someone else, they wouldn't because of the empathy they feel for them.

For Poor People, Every Day is Purge Day

In the poorest of places, where the police don't ever go, there isn't any distinction between Purge days and non-Purge days. Criminals may act with impunity and there isn't much anyone can do about it.

  • $\begingroup$ Your scenario only seems to consider short term effects of a purge with little to no advanced warning. What about long term effects when the purge is known about well in advance? For example, would companies be more inclined to treat their employees well to prevent disgruntled employees from seeking revenge. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Sep 28 '15 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ "Banks put all transfers on hold till the morning (as much as law permits). " However, such transfer holds during the Purge are, by definition, not illegal, regardless of law. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Sep 28 '15 at 15:45
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    $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast good point. The banks can do whatever they please to protect themselves. $\endgroup$ – Green Sep 28 '15 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ What about a whole industry based on purge day: "Your one-stop agent for guaranteed secure storage and guarding of your household, plus one-day resort planning outside the purge zone! Or plan your family vacation around the purge! Either way, you can rest assured that your loved ones and valuable property will be safe and secure while you enjoy one of 12 luxurious non-purge destination vacations." $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Sep 29 '15 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ I'd assume that most economic activity would stop on purge day. Banks would probably have safeguards to prevent any account activity, etc. There are also other ways that individuals/organizations could enforce their own kind of law: "embezzle from us this purge day, we'll send some very expensive hitmen after you on the next one" $\endgroup$ – Ben Aaronson Sep 30 '15 at 15:25

Do you think everyone just has some deep-down rage that they would love to vent once a year by going on a murderous rampage? I imagine one in a thousand people would take the opportunity to go around killing people. I think that all the rational people, including law enforcement would be happy to man the streets voluntarily to protect against these people. I think it would just be like martial law for one night. Even if it wasn't the government or the military manning the streets, companies would just employ security firms to do it so as to protect their businesses. There would probably be an increase in murders but they would be targetted. Also, considering everyone would be paranoid that night they would probably lock themselves away somewhere safe from their psychopathic spouses and greedy grandchildren. Again, private security firms would outweigh those kind of threats.

The Real Threat

If literally every crime was unpunishable I think you would see a lot of cyber attacks that had been in waiting. A lot of scams and financial crime happening. Are all laws that apply to banks ignored? Without any restrictions, markets would probably collapse as all the big businesses try to break deals and screw each other over. There would be huge assaults on human rights as all sorts of illegal agreements would be made during the purge.

For these reasons I see the purge as pointless, illogical and never likely to happen.

P.s. check out the latest episode of Rick and Morty that came out yesterday, it's coincidently about the purge and is very entertaining.

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    $\begingroup$ Then there's an important matter of jurisprudence. If I take steps before the 12 hours, to prepare for a crime I plan to commit during the 12 hours, can I be charged anyway with an offence such as conspiracy (if there's more than one person involved in my scam) or fraud (committed at the point I made the transaction knowing the investment was worth nothing because I was going to steal it)? Just because I actually pressed the button during the 12 hours doesn't necessarily mean everything else I've done is legal. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 28 '15 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ ... mind you, at least in English law there's an absolute defence against a common law charge of conspiracy, of "legal impossibility" (that which is planned is not illegal). I imagine there's a US statute equivalent since it's basically common sense that "conspiracy to do something legal" isn't a crime. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 28 '15 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ If I ran an online business/enterprise of any sort, and the government decided to allow an "open season" period of 12 hours, I'd just... shut down my site for that timeframe. $\endgroup$ – enderland Sep 28 '15 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ Worth noting, all of those police voluntarily guarding the streets are also immune from prosecution for what they do that night. The price for doing anything suspicious on that night might be very high for an individual. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Sep 28 '15 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ For murderous rampages I will agree with 1 in 1000. However, consider that most people will be extremely tempted to go get that brand new tv. Not from a business who can afford private security but from their neighbor when you know he's out patrolling the streets. Protecting your own stuff means removing the vigilantes and each of them watching their own house. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Sep 28 '15 at 21:25

Very significant, but not in the way you're thinking.

The Purge would rapidly turn into the "Not really a purge." People who are anti-anarchy would band together into self-enforcing communities. Just because the government isn't enforcing laws doesn't mean that you can't do it yourself during that period.

Anarchists trying to take advantage of the Purge would be in a minority, and as a much higher risk population would die out quickly. There might be an elite criminal core that survives multiple Purges, but random criminals just going around trying to loot and shoot? Likely dead in 2-3 at most.

An entire industry would grow up around the Purge, but it would be around the protection aspect. You'd see corporations that offered "safe" towns and enforcement, as well as self-policing militia types (think credit unions, but with guns and explosives). Even if you don't live in a safe town, you'd probably pay each year to go hide in corporately protected bunkers for those 12 hours, along with your valuables.

Regular corporations would shell up and hide. They'd also hire (or support and train directly) groups of mercenaries to attack other corporations during the Purge period. This would have a relatively minor impact on businesses with defendable assets, but something like Starbucks might be in trouble because they have too many locations and it's too easy to take out their assets. You'd also see a lot of corporate espionage. Extremely important assets would be outsourced and stored out of country - I imagine Canada and Mexico would see a huge boon from the Purge.

You'd see a "Purge Insurance" business grow up. The rates would be obnoxiously high, but as long as they lasted through multiple Purges and paid out on time, they'd start getting business and could practically print money.

The government will not be significantly impacted since they have the military to defend their important stuff and people. There's no way an assassin is going to get the president or supreme court justices, for example.

Negative economic impacts will be minimal. No one is going to be actively doing business or working on Purge day. There won't be trading going on, or hours for employees to be paid. Companies that attempted to not pay people would rapidly find their turnover increasing. Employees that stole would get blacklisted.

  • $\begingroup$ This was my inclination as well. As with any predictable risk, money will be invested to mitigate the damage. $\endgroup$ – Avernium Sep 28 '15 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think the word "Anarchist" is actually meaning what you think it does. $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 28 '15 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann: I know it has some specific political leanings, but yeah. In this case I'm just using it to refer to people who enjoy the anarchy (no law). $\endgroup$ – Dan Smolinske Sep 28 '15 at 19:43

You have to consider the reasons that people don't commit crimes.

For example, people (on the whole) don't shoplift because if they get caught they'll be arrested. That's all very well, but would they be more likely to shoplift if the consequences of getting caught was that the store's security guard would take you out back and batter you with a pipe? So would there be a rash of shoplifting, if the stores remained open but well-staffed? Quite possibly not.

On the other hand, the police (on the whole) don't conduct illegal searches because the case will be thrown out and they might be disciplined. If they had 12 hours with no law then you can bet they'd want to spend the time busting down the doors of drug dealers and mob lawyers, taking everything they can get their hands on that could possibly be evidence, questioning the bad guys and their immediate family members rather more aggressively than is usually allowed, perhaps destroying exculpatory evidence in existing cases. Some lawyers might betray certain clients, where their professional responsibilities to them have been onerous (but then, if the law doesn't apply does that necessarily mean you won't later be disciplined by a quasi-authority like a bar association?). Perhaps bailiffs would be collecting debts in ways the law wouldn't permit (although that's a tricky one: if you're going to do that why not forget about debt collection and just take stuff?). Landlords would evict undesirable tenants by force, that kind of thing. The press would break every court injunction and (assuming civil as well as criminal law is suspended) take libel risks they normally can't. Chemical plants would dump a year's worth of toxic waste in the river, assuming they can store that much. Want to pay someone a bribe? Do it tonight. The people most likely to be out smashing windows are glaziers.

In some cases your condition is ambiguous. If I fire someone on this night because of their membership of a protected class, then the following morning are they actually fired, or can they still bring action against me on the basis that their being fired is a continuing act and not a single action restricted to the 12-hour period? Similarly, can I just declare this night that a contract I've signed is no longer valid and be done with it, or will it be right back in force the next morning? The economic consequences of it being in general legally impossible to commit yourself to a contract that lasts beyond the next special night would be really profound (no long-term loans, for a start), far more than those of a few murders and broken windows, but I'm not sure whether you expect that to be the case.

Can my bank just keep all my money by zeroing my account that night? If so then the economic consequence is that banks are no longer considered safe places to keep money: the resulting cash/barter economy will last all year round since you can't in practice take all your money out the day before and put it back the day after. Or does the bank have a contract with me that will be enforced any other time of year to ensure they can't do that regardless of what silly games they play with numbers in their computer on the night itself? The nature of the suspension of normal law matters.

Murder is a crime that, for those few who want to commit it, the law is a major restraint. It's easy to kill someone and difficult to get away with it, so if you don't have to get away with it then those with murderous grudges will like their chances far more on this day than any other. For example you might see a lot of people who have been acquitted of crimes or charges dropped in the past year, targeted by their victims (or, even if they genuinely were innocent, by vigilantes). On the other hand, the kind of person who might shoot up a school (a) isn't that fussed about being arrested and (b) will do it when the school is open, not at night, so won't be affected.

You also have a social signal that "the rules" aren't in force, which sometimes happens in the real world when the police lose control of a situation. As such, rioting, looting and general destruction might increase. But in a "normal" riot, those who wish to defend their property still feel restrained by the law even when the rioters don't. In this situation, you might not just smash the window of a McDonald's restaurant to stick one in the eye of global capitalism (or whatever reason) if you know there's a guy in the restaurant who's been hired to shoot you if you do.

Personally I'm not sure much would happen outside of certain socially-agreed "hotspots" where trouble would concentrate. After all, if someone wanted to throw a brick through my window tonight and run away, then there's very little chance they'd be caught. So why would they be any more likely to do it on the special day? The people who want a rumble would all congregate in the town centre, or in a park somewhere. My windows would be pretty safe.

As such, I don't think the economic consequences would be catastrophic, except from organisations capable of committing truly massive crimes (like the toxic waste I mentioned above). Note also that even if there's no legal repercussions, there would be social ones, and so many people would still feel constrained by an approximation of the law. The news the next day would be all-over pictures of people up to no good: if they smash up a shop they'll be barred from shops in retaliation, maybe fired from their jobs, and since the matter isn't sub judice there's nothing to restrain the press from reporting their names. So you might even find that the streets are almost empty that night, and that simply being out marks you as a horrible person to be shunned. There's no better time to murder your spouse, so people who don't trust those they live with are going to have a nervous time of it, but that's not an economic consequence.

Final thought: I would really, really not want to be on the roads anyway. Someone who wouldn't even dream of punching you in the face would run a red light through a pedestrian crossing given half a chance.

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    $\begingroup$ I suspect most financial institutions (banks, wall street) are going to end up moving out of country in self defense. $\endgroup$ – Dan Smolinske Sep 28 '15 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @DanSmolinske: it would certainly reduce the attractiveness of the US as a venue in which the rule of law prevails and is conducive to business. I don't think it would completely eliminate it, since with or without this 12 hour period, law prevails by and large. There's a social/psychological spectrum, though, if the inhabitants of the US choose to turn into howling loons 12 hours a year then the place is a lot less attractive than if they just bunker down. I think what I'm mostly saying here is that just because loons are fun for a movie doesn't mean it's inevitable, it's author's call ;-) $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 28 '15 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ One can also consider a continuum: one second per year of lawlessness probably wouldn't immediately prompt total capital flight. 365 days might well. So what judgement call do we have to make to figure out whether 12 hours is too much of a risk to trade stocks in the US rather than anywhere else? $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 28 '15 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Good point about asking whether contracts are all suddenly made permanently voidable by a short period of total lawlessness. If they aren't I think 12 hours is a short enough period that upheavals will be minimal, and society as we know it will adapt. If they are, it's a whole new world out there. $\endgroup$ – Karen Sep 30 '15 at 19:16

The US of A would turn from a country of immigrants to a country of emigrants. An exodus of gigantic proportions would ensue, basically bringing economy to a halt.

If Joe Average citizens need to fear that anything can happen to them, they will move to a place with sane laws. Hello Canada :-)

People fled countries in masses for much less. Think of the brain drain from the former German Democratic Republic to then West Germany. It hit their economy so hard, they came up with an insane wall to keep their population from draining. Consider that GDR law was much less life threatening than the Purge and you have your answer derived from a historic event that actually happened!

  • $\begingroup$ USSR was way worse in the 50s than this would be. $\endgroup$ – the dark wanderer Sep 28 '15 at 23:48

Do you think the relatives of people murdered during the purge would be satisfied that it was legal? Do you think vigilante revenge for purge activities would be confined to the next purge? I don't think so.

The purge also destroys conventional politics. Suddenly every pressure group could become a terrorist group. You might be able to protect government officials, but what about other controversial public figures? Activists and union leaders? Opposition politicians?

The US already has a problem with mass shootings, and you're proposing to legalize them? Admittedly everyone will be hunkered down rather than concentrated in public places, apart from the groups of neighbourhood defence organisations manning the improvised barricades at the entrances to suburbs.

Let's not forget the race relations. You've re-legalized lynching. This will spark a set of riots comparable to the LA riots and the Ferguson riots and the Birmingham riots, in many major cities. People who feel threatened will start shooting at the rioters. The rioters will start shooting back, or at least burning down any building from which they suspect gunfire. You've also legalised the burning of churches, mosques, synagogues, etc.; a good way to start a civil war.

At the end of the purge, you're proposing to send in the army to restore civil order. Do you think you can successfully restore order without any more deaths? Or indeed at all?

Industrial crime will also give you lingering problems. Suddenly there's no need to dispose of toxic waste properly, just wait until purge day and dump it in the river. You'll also see armed hostile takeovers: it's legal to storm the opposing company HQ and force them to sign their property over at gunpoint.

Every purge day would be another spin at Russian Roulette of maybe turning the country into Syria.


I suspect that only one thing will happen. Government will be changed before the first purge.
In our world we get riot at the moment when government will issue such a law. No reasonable man will support such government.

If we really want to discuss such law, we need to first describe the world in which such a situation is even possible. Clearly such a world will differ from our in its economics, politics, etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you elaborate? For example why would the government change, what would that bring, etc. Possibly there is no legal way to force a government out. So how do you suggest this to be done? $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Sep 29 '15 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ I was taught at school (many years ago) that under the right (wrong) circumstances it would not only legal but required of me (and everyone else obviously) to do what I can to take down the government. By all means necessary. Which wouldn't be legal according to the laws in effect at the time, but still legal. So the suggestion would involve a few hundred well aimed bullets for an average sized government. $\endgroup$ – gnasher729 Sep 29 '15 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ This is by far the most correct answer here for anything that resembles our versions of civilization. @bilbo: "legal" is irrelevant. Physics says a few million civilians beat a couple of bureaucrats. And the cops, being citizens themselves, aren't going to side with the bureaucrats either. Nor the military. So you have 99.999% of the population against nobody. The law of might wins and no such law ever makes it to fruition, regardless of what's "legal" on some paper. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Sep 30 '15 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelS and gnasher729. In France, for example, the President can dismiss the assembly, and thus revoking the government. AFAIK, Italy has some similar possibilities. So sometimes there are legal ways to do that. You don't always have to start a revolution,which might, depending on the circumstances, be essentially a "purge day" every day for the next months/years. People might also be wary of that. So no, the answer isn't straight foward. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Sep 30 '15 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ It's irrelevant that there are places where it's "legal" and other places where it's "illegal". Nobody is going to just stand around and let crime happen. Either the government is going to prevent it from happening, or the rest of the people are. The government has no power except the people backing it. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Sep 30 '15 at 6:22

Most crime happens for the purpose of enrichment. Acquiring wealth by illegal means. The most wealth is accumulated by businesses, so they would be the most popular targets of crime.

Things like shoplifting, theft, armed robbery, fraud, embezzlement. Now imagine yourself as a business owner or executive director of a bank. You'd be very motivated to do two things:

  1. not have any physical assets in the country during this day
  2. not have any agreements which could be broken on that day

The financial implications of both are quite large: moving all assets out of the country would take literally the whole year to prepare (if not more), cost half as much as building your business from ground up, and having to make contracts for 364 days every year would cost a fortune in administrative expenses.

Of course, you can just protect your assets at all cost, with lethal force. That would require one-day contract with a militarized organization. This sort of organization would be more likely serving the highest bidders, which is prohibitive for small business.

So… In this scenario, small business would not have much chance to survive.

And banks, banks would not want to have vaults, ATMs, data, or other caches anywhere on your soil. Means lack of access to safe financial procedures.

So in all likelihood, there would be mass evacuation of any personnel who have access to sensitive information (don't want them kidnapped and interrogated), rapid decline in small business, large increase in prices of goods, increase in private armies for hire.

Rape is a popular thing as well, so expect increase in abortions, single mothers, suicides and orphanage children.

All this looks like very fertile soil for extreme income stratification. Such situations would normally lead to political instability and a coup d'état.

Besides that, there would be drastic increase in injury and death at workplace, political/racist/chauvinist/etc. layoffs. And don't forget things like that Ford Pinto exploding car thing, corporate negligence would be on the rise, with companies releasing dangerous products (and not necessarily on purpose) to cut costs. Although the products might be sold any day of the year, they would be approved for production and distribution during that day, without the need to go through all the regulations and massive paperwork.

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    $\begingroup$ "Although the products might be sold any day of the year, they would be approved for production and distribution during that day, without the need to go through all the regulations and massive paperwork." -- perhaps legislators would take steps to avoid this, either by making the crime occur at the point of continuing to sell a faulty product, or by requiring that products can only be sold if approved at some other time of the year. Then only the sales actually made on the night would be unrestricted. The business generated by lawyers looking to exploit the night might affect the economy... $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Sep 28 '15 at 17:05

The damage done during the previous Purge would not be completely cleaned up by the time it rolled around again. Damage to buildings and other infrastructure will likely require extensive repairs and possibly demolition.

The largest economic effect would be the boost in tourism dollars to any other country on the planet and everyone able to do so would be out of the country on that night.

There would also be well armed, highly trained, private security groups who would contract for protection over that night. Just because it would be legal for them to kill their employer would not offset the (lack of) future employment that betrayal would cost.


One of the earliest problems would actually happen before the purge started: the complete collapse of the U.S. (and probably the world as a result of globalization) economy. No one would want to have their wealth invested during the purge, so there would likely (almost certainly) be a mad rush of people selling all of their securities and withdrawing everything they had held in a bank account (unless the bank were extremely well defended.) The above actions would lead to a complete collapse of the securities markets and of the banking system. Most of these effects would start almost immediately after the announcement was made that the purge would happen (and maybe before for anyone with inside information.)

Long story short, this would be the financial equivalent of a nuclear holocaust, long before the purge itself actually happened.

  • $\begingroup$ Just because there is no legal punishment for crime doesn't mean there is no punishment. Imagine one criminal "visits" his unprepared neighbours during that time. You can be sure that this criminal will get a return visit one year later. Or much earlier depending on what he does. $\endgroup$ – gnasher729 Sep 28 '15 at 23:21
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    $\begingroup$ @gnasher729 Right, but I'm not talking about one criminal 'visiting' his unprepared neighbor. I'm talking about the mass panic and resulting financial meltdown that would come from investments and banks no longer having the protection of the law. It's quite likely that no one would actually end up attacking the financial system, though, because it's quite likely there wouldn't be a financial system left to attack by the time the 'purge' rolls around. The fallout from that would be far more wide-reaching than a few idiots invading homes. $\endgroup$ – reirab Sep 29 '15 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ @gnasher729 Fear is the worst enemy of securities markets as well as of the banking system. Mass bank runs are called a 'panic' for a reason. This would make the Great Crash of 1929 look like child's play. Even if no one were actually planning any large-scale attacks against the financial system, the fear of it alone would destroy the global economy, likely overnight. Fear of a financial collapse is a self-fulfilling prophesy. All it takes is an initial critical mass of people selling investments and making bank runs to start the collapse. $\endgroup$ – reirab Sep 29 '15 at 3:13

One big problem: It would be legal for the bank to steal my money, right? So any bank could transfer all the deposits on the day into their own accounts... Since they can do that, I would get all my money out before the day. As would everybody else. Which could then cause a bank run of unprecedented magnitude.

  • $\begingroup$ But then the person would just point out that the money is stolen and ask the courts to give it back. Presumably banks would be shut down that day to avoid this. No valid transactions on amnesty day. This is a fixable problem, not one that is a required part of the amnesty day. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Sep 29 '15 at 5:24
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    $\begingroup$ If we start fixing such problems one by one we end up in situation where we effectively have no purge day :) $\endgroup$ – talex Sep 30 '15 at 10:05

Very simply sales of guns and ammunition would go through the roof throughout the year in preparation. That would be the economical impact.

Living in a small village, I'd assume that there would be a very well organized shooting training throughout the year, two hours before the "event" warning signs would be erected on both ends of the village, and for twelve hours anyone trying to enter the village would be shot on sight.

Should any villager have the clever idea to commit a crime against another resident, they'd die 364 days later.

On the other hand, I'd say that any member of a government allowing such a thing to happen would have lost the right to live. After the first few die, the rest would follow quickly.

  • $\begingroup$ Should any villager have the clever idea to commit a crime against another resident - unless that resident was unpopular. Or murdered by their own family (domestic violence, inconvenient disabled child, etc). $\endgroup$ – pjc50 Sep 29 '15 at 9:02

I'm the president of Mega-Investment Mutual Funds (MIMF). We hold 10% of the nation's retirement funds.

Oddly enough all of the assets under our investment control were used to buy stock in the new company formed by myself and the other officers of MIMF. Unfortunately the company paid out large bonuses to its management team and then went bankrupt. (things like this do happen in real life) Was it illegal for us to use those assets like that? Not during "amnesty". We're very, very rich now. Those people who didn't have the sense to close their retirement accounts with us before "amnesty" are upset, but I now have more assets than most nations. So I don't really have to worry about them. I live somewhere else now, and I've got the equivalent of a national military just to protect me.

Next year, everyone will be sure to take out all of their money from all banks and investment firms to prevent this from happening again. So the markets will crash every year right before the amnesty. And of course since everyone knows that shares will become worthless once a year, no one will invest in companies for periods longer than that. The entire economy turns to cash for a day. The financial system we have would need to be completely restructured. The concept of owning shares in a company is gone now, since those shares will be lost in the next amnesty. It's all bonds now that pay out the day before "amnesty".

Also - during "amnesty" the small-time thieves will be pretty busy since they know that everyone has to have all their assets in cash/gold/physical objects for the day.

  • $\begingroup$ You could get away with this for one year. But on the second Purge, every single person you jilted out of their retirement will come after you with an axe to grind on your skull. You can't kill them all. $\endgroup$ – Green Sep 29 '15 at 2:07
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not even sure that this works the first year. The problem is that you have to repeat the crime of fraud after amnesty day when the person asserts that they own the stock and provides their documentation. Just stealing bits won't work. You have to steal the physical money. Even if it worked the first year, there are minor changes that could fix it for subsequent years. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Sep 29 '15 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ @green: how are they going to get to my private island? As I said: "I now have more assets than most nations. So I don't really have to worry about them." $\endgroup$ – Joel Sep 29 '15 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Brythan What documentation that shows they own it? They have documentation that shows they owned it. I have documentation that shows I entered a transfer of funds from their account to my account (legal for that brief period when I did it). Then I wired it all to my swiss bank account. Do you have the physical stock certificate for the mutual funds you own? I'll edit my answer slightly to clarify how I handle this. $\endgroup$ – Joel Sep 29 '15 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ Note that, as I mentioned in my answer, this would also cause a complete collapse of the banking system. This is for the simple reason that it isn't possible for everyone to withdraw all of their funds from their bank account. Banks only keep a percentage of their deposits on reserve and the rest are loaned out. They literally don't have the funds for a significant percentage of people to withdraw their savings, so, when people try, the banks will collapse. $\endgroup$ – reirab Sep 29 '15 at 3:24

If not ALL crime was legalized but only SOME crime was legalized during the period then major economic disasters could be avoided.

Considering that the movie which inspired the discussion was mostly about violent crime and blue collar crime the laws cold be written to legalize or depenalize blue collar crime but not white collar crime during the period in question.

What would be the purpose of such a law? Whatever silly reasons were given in the movie, of course, and other reasons which we might think off.

For example, it might be an experiment. Such a law might be enacted to test how much law enforcement was needed to prevent crime. It would indicate how many people obey the law because they believe in it and how many obey the law because they fear the penalties for breaking it.


in the short term, there would be very little impact. in the long term, people would realize they are safer under private protection during purge hours, than simply walking down the street the rest of the year. this realization would lead to an increase in year-round private security and a decrease in government support. eventually this would obviate the need for the government, and therefore eliminate taxation. without the tremendous burden of taxes, everyone would be roughly twice as wealthy and the economy would grow at roughly twice its current rate.


I think many people would initially misunderstand the consequences and do a lot of crazy stuff, true. Like many of the answers attest.

A rational person would eventually understand that there is a day after the purge. Even if rule of law and legal consequences are suspended, other consequences are not.

Lets lake white colar crime like embezzlement. Sure you could do this, but you would lose your clients. Unless your in a position to get enough money, and keep said money over next purges your shafted. You would get fired and have a hard time getting new clients.

The rich on the other hand would have a good time as they could organize all of their shady business to coincide with the purge. All tax evasion to happen on this day for example. Dump your trash etc.

In the long run this would be just a normal day where people would get some extra protection around. Sure some more crimes, and certainly deaths.

But the economic impact of rich people being able to maneuver around restrictions would be enormous loss to the government.


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