I picked up Moises Naim's book "Illicit" (2005), as the book of record on illegal trade (or, what I call, following my friend Manuel Rozental, "illegal capital"). I wanted to read it because I'm trying to figure out how much of the global economy flows into these different niches. You can understand the economy one way by following energy flows, another by following money, another by following technology (like the story of stuff), another by following arms, another by following illicit trade. And each of these has some relationship with the others. And the whole picture is, well, a little beyond me. What I am wondering about is what the relationship between this kind of trade is and the aboveground economy of employment, incomes, the state, investment, and so on. What happens to this economy during a financial meltdown? When is it better for a kind of economic activity to be legal and when illegal? My answer to that, as someone who is against prohibition, is different from most. But I'm all for learning whatever can be learned from whatever sources there are. Including, if it comes to that, the editor of Foreign Affairs, who is also an opponent of the Venezuelan Bolivarian proceso (a process I support).
I did some reading on "cyber crime" (mainly identity theft and credit card theft), for example, before this, and one of the causes of the increase in cyber crime was the huge number of technically skilled people in Russia thrown out of work by the neoliberal restructuring of the 1990s (it was not put in these terms exactly, but that was the upshot). Other things being equal, people would rather work in the licit than in the illicit economy. So under what circumstances does the illicit economy grow, and shrink? To the extent it is bad for people, how to stop it or minimize its harms?