New Internationalist Issue 278


[image, unknown] New Internationalist Issue 278

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The Economic Totem Pole

What you see is definitely not what you get if you look at modern industrial economies in the traditional way. Underlying the visible monetary economy is a whole non-monetary area of activity which is both invisible and undervalued. Without the strong shoulders of the bottom characters in this totem pole the market economy at the top would quickly tumble down.

Underground economy

Cash transactions which are hidden to avoid
taxes or illegal like drug trafficking, prostitution and pornography.

Mother Nature

The natural resource base is the largest and most basic support for the
monetary economy. All economic activity depends on the survival of healthy, natural ecosystems.

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Official market economy

All transactions and relationships involve money - including wages, consumption, production, investment and savings.

Government expenditure

Money spent by government on social security, defence, education and infrastructure like roads, bridges, airports, sewers and public transport.

Social economy

All non-market economic activities. Includes subsistence farming, housework, parenting, volunteer labour, home healthcare and DIY. Also includes barter or skill exchanges. In Northern economies the informal economy is estimated to be one-and-a-half times the size of the visible market economy.

Illustration by P J POLYP

©Copyright: New Internationalist 1996

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mag cover This article is from the April 1996 issue of New Internationalist.
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