Off the Books

The Wall Street Journal, calls Robert Neuwirth’s book, “Stealth of Nations,” a “fascinating tour” of the informal, unofficial economy, known as System D, which is operated by unlicensed entrepreneurs. “‘Stealth of Nations’ is a valuable book because it challenges conventional thinking about what it means for an economy to develop.”

From the book review: “System D is full of surprises. From Linda Chen, who trades counterfeit auto parts, we learn that China has a hierarchy of fake merchandise: The manufacturers of high-quality fakes offer guarantees and take back defective products, but with low-quality fakes it’s caveat emptor.”

“Mr. Neuwirth argues that System D fosters entrepreneurship while also meeting governments’ needs to encourage employment; in some cases, a modest amount of tax revenue is also generated. Moving into the ‘formal’ sector, he suggests, may not be a goal to which entrepreneurs in poor countries aspire.”