Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Oct 18, 2011 - Business & Economics - 288 pages
8 Reviews

• Thousands of Africans head to China each year to buy cell phones, auto parts, and other products that they will import to their home countries through a clandestine global back channel.
• Hundreds of Paraguayan merchants smuggle computers, electronics, and clothing across the border to Brazil.
• Scores of laid-off San Franciscans, working without any licenses, use Twitter to sell home-cooked foods.
• Dozens 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, gun running, drug trafficking. Stealth of Nations opens up this underground realm, showing how the worldwide informal economy deals mostly in legal products and is, in fact, a ten-trillion-dollar industry, making it the second-largest economy in the world, after that of the United States.
Having penetrated this closed world and persuaded its inhabitants to open up to him, Robert 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 smoothly and effectively, with its own codes and unwritten rules.
Combining a vivid travelogue with a firm grasp on global economic strategy—along with a healthy dose of irreverence and skepticism toward conventional perceptions—Neuwirth gives us an eye-opening account of a world that is always operating around us, hidden in plain sight.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Review: Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy

User Review  - Goodreads

Entertaining introduction to the field of informal economies. For someone interested in deeper study, this book provides interesting anecdotes that illustrate concepts. Read full review

Review: Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy

User Review  - Goodreads

Intrepid adventurer travels the world of underground trade, gains valuable insights, and goes native. If he'd have ended the story by opening his own auto-parts import business in Lagos, this book would be like "Dances With Wolves" for people who work off the books. Read full review


The Global Rumnmge Sale
The Global Back Channel
The Culture of the Copy
Can Anybody Tell Me How to Get to the Bridge?
The Upside of Down the Trade
gainst Efficiency
Vhy Not Fonnalize the Informal?
My Stealth Family

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About the author (2011)

Robert Neuwirth is the author of Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, a New Urban World. He has received a research and writing grant from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, appears nationally and internationally as a speaker and on radio, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Dwell, Fortune, The Nation, and Wired, among many other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.

From the Hardcover edition.

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