Which Bond villain's scheme had the greatest chance of financial success?

Bond villains are known for their over-the-top personalities, their unusual choice of body guards, and their often elaborate schemes for power and fortune. But did any of those plots have a chance of being successful if not for the interference of MI6?

Vulture asked Jean-Jacques Dethier, a development economist at the World Bank and a great fan of 007, to assess the likelihood of various economic schemes ending in beaucoup British sterling. As it turns out, Auric Goldfinger was on the right track with his notion of irradiating American gold:

Plot: Gold tycoon Auric Goldfinger's (Gert Frobe) plan is quite simple: He wants to attack the U.S. Bullion Depository in Fort Knox and detonate an atomic bomb, thus irradiating the gold stored there, rendering it worthless for decades. This will in turn increase the value of Goldfinger's own gold and cause economic chaos in the Western world.

Plausibility: "This looks plausible to me," says Dethier. "If you irradiate the gold, you can't touch it - which will effectively reduce the gold supply, at a time when the United States currency was still on the gold standard." However, there is one potential problem - the vast majority of the gold in the U.S. wasn't in Fort Knox - it was (and remains) in the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in downtown Manhattan. (But most of the gold in New York belongs to other nations, so Goldfinger's evil plan is still fairly solid.)

Head over to Vulture for Dethier's ruling on other villainous schemes, from Live and Let Die's Dr. Kananga's plot to hook all of America on heroin to Dominic Greene's attempt to create a fresh water monopoly in Quantum of Solace.

Ask an Economist: Which Bond Villain Plan Would Have Worked (and Which Not)? [Vulture via Super Punch]