Stealth of Nations
Bargain Book Copy
Dozens of laid-off San Franciscans, working without any licenses, use Twitter to sell home-cooked foods. Scores of major multinationals sell products through unregistered kiosks and street vendors around the world. When we think of the informal economy, we tend to think of crime: prostitution, drugs, pirated DVDs. In Stealth of Nations, Robert Neuwirth opens up this underground realm, explaining that the worldwide informal economy deals mostly in legal products and is, in fact, a $10 trillion industry, making it the second-largest economy in the world, after that of the United States. Having penetrated a closed world and persuaded its inhabitants to open up to him, Neuwirth makes clear that this informal method of transaction dates back as far as humans have existed and traded; that it provides essential services and crucial employment that fill the gaps in formal systems; and that this unregulated market works like a well-oiled machine with its own codes and unwritten rules. Combining a vivid travelogue with a firm grasp of global economic strategy - along with a healthy dose of irreverence and skepticism toward the conventional - Neuwirth gives us an eye-opening account of a world that is always operating around us, hidden in plain sight.
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