3-6-2016 | Sunday Sermon

Contrary to popular wisdom, operating in the underground is hardly cost-free. Extralegal businesses are taxed by the lack of good property law and continually having to hide their operations from the authorities. Because they are not incorporated, extralegal entrepreneurs cannot lure investors by selling shares; they cannot secure low-interest formal credit because they do not even have legal addresses. They cannot reduce risks by declaring limited liability or obtaining insurance coverage. The only "insurance" available to them is that provided by their neighbors and the protection that local bullies or mafias are willing to sell to them.

Moreover, because extralegal entrepreneurs live in constant fear of government detection and extortion from corrupt officials, they are forced to split and compartmentalize their production facilities between many locations, thereby rarely achieving important economies of scale. In Peru, 15 percent of gross income from manufacturing in the extralegal sector is paid out in bribes, ranging from "free samples" and special "gifts" of merchandise to outright cash.

--Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


  1. "whoever said illegal was the easy way out / couldn't understand the mechanics and the workings of the underworld, granted'