Feature

The mighty shadow economy

The $10 trillion black market amounts to “an economic superpower” second in size only to the U.S., said Robert Neuwirth at ForeignPolicy.com.

Robert Neuwirth
ForeignPolicy.com

If you want to see “the future of the global economy,” look under the table, said Robert Neuwirth. The $10 trillion black market amounts to “an economic superpower” second in size only to the U.S. By the end of the decade, two thirds of the world’s workers are expected to be off the books. And contrary to popular belief, this global shadow economy is not a system of criminal enterprises, but “inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants” who run market stalls and transnational trading businesses alike. The Nigerian businessman who imports power generators from China under the table is one of many bringing “machinery, mobile phones, computers, and more” to places that are otherwise off the grid.

This underground system challenges our established trade agreements, copyright rules, and labor laws, but “there’s plenty that’s positive, too.” The informal economy “distributes products more equitably and cheaply than any big company can,” and it’s narrowing the digital divide. We can learn a lot from the “resilience, self-organization, and group solidarity” that drive trade in the shadows.

Recommended

Peru's new president sworn in after country's ex-leader is impeached and arrested
Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.
political chaos

Peru's new president sworn in after country's ex-leader is impeached and arrested

Peru's president moves to dissolve Congress
Pedro Castillo.
uhhhhh

Peru's president moves to dissolve Congress

Nigerian military has run forced abortion program for years, report says
A soldier seen on the background of the Nigerian flag.
A Dark History in Africa

Nigerian military has run forced abortion program for years, report says

3 wild details of the plot to overthrow the German government
German police.
power grab

3 wild details of the plot to overthrow the German government

Most Popular

Russian military bloggers are reportedly irate over Ukraine drone strikes
Drone strike inside Russia
Fear Factor

Russian military bloggers are reportedly irate over Ukraine drone strikes

Jan. 6 Congressional Gold Medal recipients snub GOP officials
Gladys Sicknick, Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy
...

Jan. 6 Congressional Gold Medal recipients snub GOP officials

Al Franken to return to TV as Daily Show guest host
Al Franken and Sarah Silverman
he's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggone it — people like him

Al Franken to return to TV as Daily Show guest host