The shadow economy, or the black market as some call it, could provide a viable option for poor people to make ends meet and save many lives, and not only that. It could stimulate a stagnating economy in times of strife. Such heretic ideas were expressed by one Robert Neuwirth in his book Stealth of Nations
, where he urges the reader to look a very neglected truth about global economic life straight in the face.
He claims that the shadow economy should have been looked at as a form of "big business" a long time ago because it already has the revenue and scope of real big business. In principle, the black market mostly includes the illegal street trade and services with fake and contraband goods. It does not contribute to the public budget because it does not pay taxes (or pays very little), and in that it could be viewed as a detriment to the economy. But on the other hand it is often the only means of livelihood for millions of people, and their only chance to have access to these goods and services, and access to jobs which would have been impossible in the regular cycle of entrepreneurship and employment - for various reasons.
This of course is a very bold statement. Moreover, Neuwirth is putting in the category of "shadow economy" a myriad of activities involving over 1.8 billion people around the world, mostly in jobs that are one or another form of fully illegal economic life, with no proper oversight and therefore hiding many risks for the consumers. Sometimes we are merely talking of some industrious vendors who are trading small quantities of stuff like electric gadgets or fashion items, clothes and cosmetics outside the officially established channels and outlets of the big trade chains. Very often this is the only way for a broader array of consumers to access these goods and services in markets that are otherwise widely neglected, bypassed and forgotten by the big firms and trade chains.( Collapse )