The fortunes of the world's legitimate economies may rise and fall, but the global black market is currently booming.
From Somalia's "pirate stock exchange" to the flourishing illegal organ trade in Egypt, there are some making money hand-over-fist, under the table.
We took a look at nine "alternative economies" -- and Greece -- to find out how people make do on the margins.
According to Wired magazine, the Romanian city of Râmnicu Vâlcea is known “among law enforcement officials around the world” as Hackerville.
Reporter Yudhijit Bhattacharjee maintains that the term is “something of a misnomer; the town is indeed full of online crooks, but only a small percentage of them are actual hackers.”
Explains Bhattacharjee in a feature published last January:
Most specialize in ecommerce scams and malware attacks on businesses. According to authorities, these schemes have brought tens of millions of dollars into the area over the past decade, fueling the development of new apartment buildings, nightclubs, and shopping centers. Râmnicu Vâlcea is a town whose business is cybercrime, and business is booming.
When Bhattacharjee asked a cab driver what all the gold-chained twenty- and thirty-something men he saw around town driving BMWs and Mercedes did for a living, the response was, with a laugh, “They steal money on the Internet.”
But it’s not the “gleaming storefronts” or the new construction which “grinds ahead on nearly every block” that mark Râmnicu Vâlcea as the epicenter of Internet crime. No, it’s the more than two dozen Western Union locations within a four-block area that give Râmnicu Vâlcea’s “secret” away.
In 2004, smoking was banned in all federal institutions, and cigarettes, which were the de facto currency until then, were replaced by…are you ready for this?...