Stealth of Nations by Robert Neuwirth
The Global Rise of the Informal Economy

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In "Stealth of Nations," Robert Neuwirth offers a fascinating tour of System D, a world largely ignored by academics and government officials but a world familiar to anyone who has visited developing countries...is a valuable book because it challenges conventional thinking about what it means for an economy to develop.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

• 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.
 

About Robert Neuwirth

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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.
 
Published October 18, 2011 by Anchor. 305 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Marc Levinson on Oct 15 2011

In "Stealth of Nations," Robert Neuwirth offers a fascinating tour of System D, a world largely ignored by academics and government officials but a world familiar to anyone who has visited developing countries...is a valuable book because it challenges conventional thinking about what it means for an economy to develop.

Read Full Review of Stealth of Nations: The Globa... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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