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Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the…
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Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy (edição 2012)

por Robert Neuwirth (Autor)

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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, 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 operating all around us, hidden in plain sight.--From publisher description.… (mais)
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Written in much more of a literary travelogue style than I'd expected, although this isn't a criticism. Neuwirth does a great job of exploring the various incarnations of "System D", the underground grey and black markets of the global economy that defy, avoid, or even replace formal government. Contrary to our expectations, the shadow economy produces an enormous output, second only to the GDP of the United States. Neuwirth takes us to China, Nigeria, and Paraguay, introducing us to street merchants and informal market associations that do what governments can't or won't: providing a higher standard of living and all-important employment.

Neuwirth is making a case for the free market, as evidenced by the play on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, and indeed a quote from Smith's seminal economic work introduces each chapter. However Neuwirth doesn't evangelize and his case never crosses into the heavy-handed. He does make a strong case for engagement with the underground, a kind of quasi-legitimacy that allows formal institutions to operate alongside the informal markets and trade associations, rather than treating them as useless criminals.

This isn't the capitalism of the brand we've come to expect in the West, dominated by large firms operating in close cahoots with civilian government, but rather the original entrepreneurism: the informal can-do make-it-happen spirit that should, ideally, define free market enterprise. Neuwirth is sympathetic to their cause and advocates for measures to negate some of the undesirable aspects of System D, while recognizing and promoting the obvious benefits of informality.

All in all, an interesting read both for its look at the inner workings of the underground and an alternative to the way most of us are used to doing things. ( )
  chaosmogony | Apr 27, 2013 |
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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, 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 operating all around us, hidden in plain sight.--From publisher description.

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