Shadow, Underground, Informal

Economists are clearly trying to find a name for activities that function like their metier but escape their detection. I suppose one reason they are having trouble settling on a description is because the agents actively resist capture and calculation. People engaging in unmonitored trade and exchange of goods and services are like a herd of wild horses not wanting to be rounded up.

Anyway, I don’t think “informal economy” is helpful. It would be hard to argue that formality is preferable, much less beneficial in any context. I imagine it represented by a top hat. LOL

“Shadow economy” seems more on point, but blames the perceived, rather than an inability on the part of the perceivers. While the trade and exchange of goods and services is immediately obvious to the partners, it is when a medium is introduced to delay the time and increase the distance for the completion of the action that confusion arises. The role of currency to make the future and distance present is not well understood–a failure that is perhaps the result of some people not having a sense of time and a sense of place. Currency symbolizes activity that is to occur later. It’s an IOU.

Then there is the problem of people not understanding the difference between owe and own. Does an ownership society even contemplate owing? Is it just English that is so confusing? In German, debts are sins.

Anyway, what I am thinking is that subliminal and liminal or luminal economics might be a more relevant pairing by focusing on what is seen and what is not seen. That the not seen can be accounted for by the role of currency–rendering the visible invisible but more easily calculable.