Wednesday, December 30, 2009

happy informal new year

It's that time again. All across the planet, thousands of men and women are standing on streetcorners selling noisemakers and ugly sunglasses shaped to say 2010. For the coming day or two, hawkers and other unlicensed street vendors will be out in force in almost every country of the world.

The trumpet sellers of Java are reporting very slow sales, according to this article in Vivanews. One sidewalk vendor said he had expected to move more than 1,000 trumpets, but so far has rung up just 200 sales. Bad weather may have something to do with it. And people everywhere are facing tough times.

But that's no reason not to have fun.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A big Shadow Economy is a good thing

Researchers at Deutsche Bank--the German multinational--have reached a staggering conclusion about the informal economy: it's a good thing. The Financial Times has details.

From the article: "Countries with a high prevalence of moonlighting builders, unrecorded cash transactions, missing invoices, tax evasion or illegal activities such as drug dealing, have seen smaller contractions during Europe’s worst downturn since the 1930s than more honest neighbours." For instance, "Greece’s economy has shrunk only about 1 per cent this year – compared with about 4 per cent for the European Union as a whole."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Moroccan rhythms

The Moroccan government reports a boom in the informal economy, according to a report in the Middle East North Africa Financial Network.

The statistics are impressive: 40,000 new businesses (and only one in five new businesses is registered with the government.) In 2007, according to the government survey, informal businesses in Morocco created more than 2 million jobs and had a turnover of 279.9 billion Moroccan Dirhams, or about $36 billion US.

In Morocco, the informal sector is growing way faster than the formal.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

it's hard to be a saint in the city

How do you survive when you're forced to migrate to the city? Join the informal economy.

Reuters reports on Grimaldo Hernandez, who fled death squads in rural Colombia and brought his family to Cartagena. There, he earns $200 a month by selling tinto (the local name for coffee) on the streets of El Pozon, one of Cartagena's shantytowns. His wife, too, has taken to the street and sells ices around El Pozon.

All told, one half of the workers in the world work in the informal economy. For most, like for Grimaldo Hernandez, this is not a crime. It is, instead, the way to survive and find a firm future for their families.