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The Black Market

The black market is an underground economy that is not government regulated. It is estimated to be worth around 2.55 trillion dollars.

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What Is The Black Market?

The black market is an underground economy that is not government regulated. It is a virtual or physical platform for the illegal sale of goods and services. In Africa and the Caribbean, some call it System D. The D stands for debrouillard, which describes a resourceful and ingenious individual in French. It earned its name due to the criminal nature of its commodities and services. 

More Common Than We Think

In the United States, when people picture the black market, they visualize dark alleyways with knock off designer bags. Some may imagine drug dealers selling Heroin in sketchy corners. People think it is a place full of dangerous and criminal entrepreneurs. Yet, many “regular” people participate in black market dealings daily. Very often, individuals engage in the underground economy without even realizing it. 

For example, if a cook sells homemade burgers to a friend without a food license, they contribute to the black market. Services and sales not legally registered yet making money is part of the illegal sector. Another typical example is when working parents hire weekly babysitters yet never report it to the government. Any paid work or transaction that does not pay employment taxes is part of the shadow economy. Though an interaction may not be threatening if prohibited, it is part of the black market.

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Why Do Black Markets Exist?

Black markets exist when people take part in “under the table” activities to avoid government price controls or taxes. The individuals are motivated by their desires to avoid penalties and restrictions. Yet, the sector also persists because people unintentionally break laws, like when they barter. 

Historically the underground economy peaks during:

  • Wars 
  • Government corruption
  • High inflation rate
  • Low currency reserves 
  • Frequent regulatory barriers
  • Low wage rates
  • Social oppression
  • High levels of taxation
  • Economic downturns

As more of a country’s population becomes unemployed or oppressed, the larger their black market grows.

How Big Is The Underground Economy?

It is almost impossible to measure how big the underground economy is since it has no official registry. However, according to different sources, it is about 12% of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). In 2020 the United States GDP was worth $21.48 trillion. That would make the U.S. black market worth around 2.55 trillion dollars. It is important to note that the number is only an estimate. The true worth of the underground market is nearly impossible to track. No one truly knows its value.

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Sold On The Black Market

Some black markets may exist accidentally, but others are intentionally hidden. Worldwide there are severe and lesser-known black markets operating behind the shadows. Many are in places no one would have ever imagined, like the internet (dark web). Within the shadow sector, consumers can buy or sell goods not found anywhere else. 

A few of the dangerous items and services sold in the black market include:


Endangered species



Fake eBay accounts

Ticket scalping

Slave labor



Robo Instagram followers

Designer knockoffs

Consumers can find anything in the hidden economy. It is known for having a plethora of uncommon contraband. 

Addiction And The Black Market

Addiction is a severe problem in the United States. Over 21 million Americans are battling at least one addiction. Of those 21 million, only 10% reported receiving any treatment. How did the other 18.9 million people cope? According to various researchers and journalists, many individuals manage their disorders with the black market’s help. Since the underground economy provides access to their “fix” without restrictions, many buy or exchange services to access the affinity of their addiction. Whether it’d be taboo porn, Opioids, or Amphetamines, the illegal sector has it. 

Over the years law enforcement has cracked down on the black market. Through their efforts, criminal activities are slowing. But the fight is far from over. The raging Opioid epidemic in the United States has given rise to a new sector in the illegal economy. Due to the restrictions around Opioid addiction medication, the black market is growing faster and stronger every day. 

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Finding Help

A serious change in federal policies around Opioid addiction is necessary. But in the meantime, there are other options. There is help if you or a loved one are battling an Opioid addiction or any form of addiction. There are several state-of-the-art facilities ready to support you or your loved one on their journey to recovery. Contact a treatment provider. These trained individuals can help answer all your addiction treatment questions. Get in touch today.