Black market

A black market in Shinbashi in 1946.
A black market salesman (fly by night) depicted in graffiti in Kharkiv, Ukraine (2008)
Barcelona 2015
Mercado Negro, so called "Black Market", in La Paz, Bolivia.
In the U.S., cannabis has been termed as a cash crop.
A tower of confiscated smuggled weapons about to be incinerated in Nairobi, Kenya
Broken barrels of liquor after a police raid in 1925, in Elk Lake, Ontario

Clandestine market or series of transactions that has some aspect of illegality or is characterized by noncompliance with an institutional set of rules.

- Black market

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Grey market

Trade of a commodity through distribution channels that are not authorized by the original manufacturer or trade mark proprietor.

Milk-powder runners queuing outside Sheung Shui station, near the Hong Kong border

The import of legally restricted or prohibited items such as prescription drugs or firearms, on the other hand, is considered black market, as is the smuggling of goods into a target country to avoid import duties.

Informal economy

Part of any economy that is neither taxed nor monitored by any form of government.

Black market sellers offer watches for sale to US soldiers in Baghdad in 2004.
Informal economy: Haircut on a sidewalk in Vietnam.
Ice cream street vendor in Mexico.
Black market peddler on graffiti, Kharkiv
Daily life of the informal economy in the streets of Bolivia.
Black market in Shinbashi, Japan, 1946
Waste picker in Indonesia
Street vendor in Colombia
Street vendor in India
The Narantuul Market in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, colloquially also called Khar Zakh (Black Market)
German shadow economy 1975–2015, Friedrich Schneider University Linz
Map of the national shadow economies per capita in EU countries. The red scale represents the numbers displayed by the red bars of the diagram on the left.
The total national GDP of EU countries, and its formal and informal (shadow economy) component per capita
Share of employed in informal employment by gender
A group of Indian women making bamboo products they intend to sell in Dumka, Jharkhand
A girl selling plastic containers for carrying Ganges water, Haridwar, India
Informal vendors in Uttar Pradesh
A girl weaving a rug in Egypt
Informal beverage vendor in Guatemala City

Other concepts that can be characterized as informal sector can include the black market (shadow economy, underground economy), agorism, and System D.

Fence (criminal)

Individual who knowingly buys stolen goods in order to later resell them for profit.

In Charles Dickens' 19th-century story Oliver Twist, Fagin (far left) is a fence who recruits homeless boys and trains them as pickpockets.
Ticket to the hanging of Jonathan Wild.
Car stereo thieves typically want to sell stolen items quickly. By selling to fences, they avoid the hassle and suspicion of selling directly to the final buyers.
Stores have complained that increasingly, shoplifters are stealing goods with the intent of selling them anonymously online. In this photo, a security guard scans the security cameras for shoplifters.

The thief who patronises the fence is willing to accept a low profit margin in order to reduce his risks by instantly "washing his hands" of the black market loot and disassociating from the criminal act that procured it.

Market (economics)

Composition of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations or infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange.

Front view of Stuart Saunders Hogg Market, Kolkata
Corn Exchange in London, circa 1809
New York Stock Exchange (United States), 1963
A market in Râmnicu Vâlcea by Amedeo Preziosi
Cabbage market by Václav Malý
Wet market in Singapore
Aberdeen (Scotland) fish market.
Fish market in Peru.
An Afghan market teeming with vendors and shoppers
Monday market in Portovenere, Italy
Wetherby (England) town's market
Gómez Palacio city's municipal market
Used cars market: due to presence of fundamental asymmetrical information between seller and buyer the market equilibrium is not efficient—in the language of economists it is a market failure
A coal power plant in Datteln—emissions trading or cap and trade is a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants
Perceptual mapping is a diagrammatic technique used by marketers that attempts to visually display the perceptions of customers or potential customers and the position of a product, product line, brand, or company is typically displayed relative to their competition
Works Project Administration poster (1937)
Market bargaining in Dilli Haat (Delhi)
Trade networks are very old and in this picture the blue line shows the trade network of the Radhanites, circa 870 CE
Yongsan Electronics Market in Seoul (South Korea)
Puritans drinking from pewter mugs at the tavern, Massachusetts.
Black market in La Paz
A Kula bracelet from the Trobriand Islands
The Kula ring
French crown jewels in the Louvre exhibition
United States home sales (blue)
Book Sales in the United Kingdom
Size and growth of the legal outsourcing market
Global mobiles applications market size

There can be black markets, where a good is exchanged illegally, for example markets for goods under a command economy despite pressure to repress them and virtual markets, such as eBay, in which buyers and sellers do not physically interact during negotiation.


A liquor raid in 1925, in Elk Lake, Ontario
Rum runner schooner Kirk and Sweeney with contraband stacked on deck
Rum-runner William S. McCoy, Florida area from 1900 to 1920
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca
CG-100, a typical 75-foot patrol boat
Rum-runner Linwood set afire to destroy evidence
Pacific Coast offshore rum-runner Malahat, a five-masted schooner

Rum-running or bootlegging is the illegal business of smuggling alcoholic beverages where such transportation is forbidden by law.


Act or practice of forbidding something by law; more particularly the term refers to the banning of the manufacture, storage , transportation, sale, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

A police raid confiscating illegal alcohol, in Elk Lake, Canada, in 1925
The Drunkard's Progress: A lithograph by Nathaniel Currier supporting the temperance movement, January 1846
Confiscated alcohol in Finland c. 1920s
This 1902 illustration from the Hawaiian Gazette shows the Anti-Saloon League and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union's campaign against beer brewers. The "water cure" was a form of torture that was in the news because of its use in the Philippines.
Prescription form for medicinal liquor
The first consignment of liquor in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, following the repeal of prohibition laws in 1928

Generally, prohibition is not completely effective, and tends to drive the market underground instead.

Money laundering

Process of concealing the origin of money, often obtained from illicit activities such as drug trafficking, corruption, embezzlement or gambling, by converting it into a legitimate source.

Placing "dirty" money in a service company, where it is layered with legitimate income and then integrated into the flow of money, is a common form of money laundering.

These processes have complicated planning and management of the economy and contributed to the growth of the shadow economy.

Illegal drug trade

International drug routes
The nephews of President Nicolás Maduro, Efraín Antonio Campo Flores and Francisco Flores de Freitas, after their arrest by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on 10 November 2015.
US$207 million and additional amounts in other currencies were confiscated from Mexican Zhenli Ye Gon in 2007.
Hashish seized in Operation Albatross, a joint operation of Afghan officials, NATO, and the DEA
5 cm hashish packages taken from a smuggler by police.
The U.S. Coast Guard offloads seized cocaine in Miami Beach, Florida, May 2014
War on drugs in Arizona, October 2011
Drug trafficking tunnel discovered near U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area
Seized drugs in Bogota, Colombia, April 2013
Colombian drug lord Diego Murillo Bejarano was extradited from Colombia to the U.S. in May 2008
Four ounces (113 grams) of cannabis
A field of opium poppies in Burma
Heroin woven into a hand-made knotted carpet seized at Manchester Airport, 2012
Methamphetamine smuggled inside a car tire
Heroin or methamphetamine drug use kit ("works") with needles and a spoon
Prostitutes buy cocaine capsules from a drug dealer in Berlin, 1930. The capsules sold for 5 marks each.

The illegal drug trade or drug trafficking is a global black market dedicated to the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of prohibited drugs.


Type of organized crime in which the perpetrators set up a coercive, fraudulent, extortionary, or otherwise illegal coordinated scheme or operation to repeatedly or consistently collect a profit.

American Mafia mobster Sam Giancana

Because of the clandestine nature of the black market, most proceeds made from criminal rackets often go untaxed.

Unreported employment

Illegal employment that is not reported to the government.

Iustitia ("Lady Justice") is a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

It is a part of what has been called the underground economy, shadow economy, black market or the non-observed economy.