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.
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… 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”!