Originally posted on TED Blog:
When we hear the phrase “the economy,” often the first images that pop to mind are crisp bills being printed in a government treasury, or suited traders wheeling and dealing on the floor of a stock exchange, or a mall where suburban shoppers buy T-shirts and sneakers before grabbing a Cinnabon. But as journalist Robert Neuwirth pointed out at TEDGlobal 2012, while the luxury economy is responsible for $1.5 trillion a year, there are currently 1.8 billion people across the globe toiling in the informal, unregulated economy.
“If it were united in a single political system — one country, call it the United Street Sellers Republic, the U.S.S.R., or Bazaaristan — it would be worth $10 trillion every year. That would make it the second largest economy in the world after the United States,” said Neuwirth in his illuminating talk. “All of this is happening openly and aboveboard — there’s nothing underground about it. It’s our pre-judgment that it’s underground.”