Business: Take Cash and Skip the Tax

Latest dodges: barter, street hawking and "hiring a horse "

While the economy is dipping into a recession, a much noticed but little recorded sector of American business activity is thriving as never before. It is the underground economy, an illicit system of cash and barter in exchange for goods and services. Because it operates beyond the statistician's reach and the tax collector's grasp, no one knows its exact size and scope. But various learned economists, who find this fast-growing sector to be a fertile field for academic investigation, estimate that it runs to hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

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