“The Shadow Superpower” – the $10 trillion global black market


Foreign Policy magazine calls the global black market “the world’s fastest growing economy — and its future“.

What happens in all the unregistered markets and roadside kiosks of the world is not simply haphazard. It is a product of intelligence, resilience, self-organization, and group solidarity, and it follows a number of well-worn though unwritten rules. It is, in that sense, a system … It is where the jobs are. In 2009, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) … concluded that half the workers of the world — close to 1.8 billion people — were working … off the books, in jobs that were neither registered nor regulated, getting paid in cash, and, most often, avoiding income taxes.

Kids selling lemonade from the sidewalk in front of their houses are part of [this system]. So are many of the vendors at stoop sales, flea markets, and swap meets. So are the workers who look for employment in the parking lots of Home Depot and Lowe’s throughout the United States. And it’s not only cash-in-hand labor. As with David Obi’s deal to bring generators from China to Nigeria, [it] is multinational, moving all sorts of products — machinery, mobile phones, computers, and more — around the globe and creating international industries that help billions of people find jobs and services.

In many countries — particularly in the developing world — [the black market] is growing faster than any other part of the economy, and it is an increasing force in world trade. But even in developed countries, after the financial crisis of 2008-09, [it] was revealed to be an important financial coping mechanism. A 2009 study by Deutsche Bank, the huge German commercial lender, suggested that people in the European countries with the largest portions of their economies that were unlicensed and unregulated — in other words, citizens of the countries with the most robust [black market] — fared better in the economic meltdown of 2008 than folks living in centrally planned and tightly regulated nations.

. . .

… it’s possible to make a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the approximate value of the billions of underground transactions around the world. And it comes to this: The total value of [the black market] as a global phenomenon is close to $10 trillion. Which makes for another astonishing revelation. If [it] were an independent nation, united in a single political structure — call it the United Street Sellers Republic (USSR) or, perhaps, Bazaaristan — it would be an economic superpower, the second-largest economy in the world (the United States, with a GDP of $14 trillion, is numero uno). The gap is narrowing, though, and if the United States doesn’t snap out of its current funk, the USSR/Bazaaristan could conceivably catch it sometime this century.

In other words, [the black market] looks a lot like the future of the global economy.

There’s more at the link.

Of course, an important aspect of the black market is that earnings are in cash or in kind, and transactions are not taxed or registered in the “official” economy.  That’s one reason why governments all over the world are constantly trying to crack down on it, so that they can collect the taxes they insist they’re owed.  Independent-minded entrepreneurs, on the other hand, see no reason why they should hand over a portion (often an exorbitant portion) of their hard-earned dollars to bureaucrats and politicians.  It’s hard not to sympathize with them.

I daresay the black market will become a mainstay of the resistance offered to “nanny state” governments like the Biden administration as they seek to extend their tentacles into every walk of life.  I, for one, have every intention of seizing every opportunity for independent thought, work and life that I can get my hands on.

Are you with me?  If so, let our rallying cry be, “To hell with Big Brother”!



  1. (Sigh) There seems to be some confusion on this point. The "black" market is only part of the informal economy, and provides goods that are illegal for you to have. Most of what this article is talking about is what is typically referred to as the "grey" market, which most everyone has participated in at least once.

    1. I agree, but I doubt that the author is capable of thinking in nonbinary terms outside of gender.

      The article is from a government perspective and ment for consumption by beurocrats and academics – most of whom hate the free market or anything they don't control. Hence if it doesn't jump through every hoop and subject itself to arbitrary taxation and regulation it has to be "black"

      Furthermore, if the "black" market is growing so rapidly it means that .gov has grown too expansive, but I doubt that connection would really be made beyond pumping the brakes in such growth

  2. This explains the move to eliminate cash and replace everything with block chain cryptocurrencies. Block chain keeps a record of everywhere a crypto "coin" has been.

    Moving to doing these transactions by barter is more complicated and messier, but this has been going on through pretty much all of history. It will never be completely stamped out, although lots of good people will die from them trying.

    1. Yes i was thinking similarly. But imagine what would likely happen. Human nature being essentially unchangeable (despite the perfervid NWO dreams for a neo Homo Sovieticus), people will create their own currency. Yes, barter to some degree but likely also something like junk silver coins, 18k jewelry, and the occasional gold coin for large purchases will become the new cash currency in the underground economy. But then again, long before we get to a digital currency we will devolve into large scale economic warfare, particularly in Red states when the vaxxports become a federal mandate nationwide. If you thought Italy protests were large just wait for the Red state protests. Heck even NYC is bringing people into the streets now.

  3. Everyone who hopes to get thru what's coming needs to practice living in the grey economy NOW while they have alternatives.

    Spend the weekend shopping as if you had no cards, no id, no bank account. There are 30-40M illegals in the country that do it every day. Helps if you can get by in spanish, but it's not necessary to use the roadside stands, flea markets, farmer's markets, and semi-permanent yard sales.

    PRACTICE like you practice any prep.

    Leave your phone and wallet, good watch, and flashy rings home. Dress down but scrupulously clean.

    Spend some time watching to see how it's done wherever you are. Do people haggle? Do the women do all the work while the men hold and pass out the money? Are they loquacious or businesslike? Is there an element of the 'promenade' to the day?

    Do your best to fit into the surroundings.

    Buy some stuff.


    1. Illegals in the us often have bank accounts, credit cards, and even a driver license.

      Unfortunately usually no auto insurance, which is illegal in Ca for everyone else, but is ignored for them.

  4. "It is a product of intelligence, resilience, self-organization, and group solidarity, and it follows a number of well-worn though unwritten rules. It is, in that sense, a system … "

    In that sense? It's a system in any sense. It's called free market capitalism where the government doesn't tell you what you can and cannot sell or to whom or for what price. As mentioned in the comments above it is not "black" as that implies illegal goods. And of course government will try to regulate it, just like story after story about kids being jacked up for having a lemonade stand. They always seem to go after them up for health code reasons or licensing reasons, but I could see doing it for tax evasion reasons if they really wanted to stifle the entrepreneurial spirit. Teach the kids that you can't do anything without government permission and that lesson will go a long way.

  5. That's an old article, "OCTOBER 28, 2011". A lot has changed in the last ten years.
    Plus it seems to me that people selling/working off the books is an ago old practice.

  6. The true "black market" cannot really be measured at all. And like Tom wrote the black market and the grey market are not at all the same.

    Much of the black market is insidious and terrifying. Drugs and little girls anyone?

    We need not form some alternate "market". We need to take back the one that already exists.

  7. "Are you with me? If so, let our rallying cry be, "To hell with Big Brother"!"

    Or to put it more artistically in Ayn Rand's words, Who is John Galt?

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