The power of III

Summum ius summa iniuria--More law, less justice

08 November 2011

System D: The $10 trillion black market. Or, what people do when they ignore the government

System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call themdébrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without registering or being regulated by the bureaucracy and, for the most part, without paying taxes, are part of "l'economie de la débrouillardise." Or, sweetened for street use, "Systeme D." This essentially translates as the ingenuity economy, the economy of improvisation and self-reliance, the do-it-yourself, or DIY, economy. 

 In 2009, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a think tank sponsored by the governments of 30 of the most powerful capitalist countries and dedicated to promoting free-market institutions, concluded that half the workers of the world -- close to 1.8 billion people -- were working in System D: off the books, in jobs that were neither registered nor regulated, getting paid in cash, and, most often, avoiding income taxes.

A 2009 study by Deutsche Bank, the huge German commercial lender, suggested that people in the European countries with the largest portions of their economies that were unlicensed and unregulated -- in other words, citizens of the countries with the most robust System D -- fared better in the economic meltdown of 2008 than folks living in centrally planned and tightly regulated nations.

"I'm totally off the grid," one unlicensed jewelry designer told me. "It was never an option to do it any other way. It never even crossed my mind. It was financially absolutely impossible." The growth of System D opens the market to those who have traditionally been shut out.

Read the rest at Foreign Policy: Link


The black market has been around for as long as governments have been around. 

Before governments, the black market was just called "the Market".  ;-)

You know, the market where you keep what you earn, and not half of what you earn.  

It is comforting to know that if the Sovereign Debt Crisis were to bring down the government,  motivated people would keep on working...

That is, work and keep what they earn, for a change. 

Vive l'systeme D.


  1. I'm going to play Devils Advocate for a moment and ask: Aren't all those System D people just sponging off an infrastructure paid for and maintained by the #iam53 people?

  2. Aren't all those System D people forced to use an infrastructure paid for by theft and maintained labor extracted from the people?

    There, fixed it for you.

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