If you ask an expert what the world’s most lucrative businesses are, chances are they’ll say alcohol, oil or weapons. However, most would limit themselves to the legal side of things where the businesses are clean and you’re paying taxes. However, there is a parallel black economy that’s worth trillions globally, and some say it’s more powerful than the white one. We’re talking about the drug cartels, mafia and grey markets.
According to a UNODC (UN Office on Drugs and Crime) report, the market for illegal drugs is worth $300 billion globally, and that’s only for a year!
Marijuana alone counts for $141.8 billion, add to that the infamous $70 billion cocaine market, $65 billion market for prescription drugs sold illegally, and $28 billion analectic market. Guess how much governments would earn in taxes if these were legal, and widely available.
If you still have a doubt about how big the drug economy actually is, consider this – if the drug market was a country, its GNP would rank 21st globally!
The global market for sex is over a $100 billion. That’s a lot of money. Enslavement contributes to a big chunk of this. Take this – a woman sex slave would earn her pimp around $250,000 every year. It’s the world’s oldest profession, and a profitable one at that.
Governments across the globe spend trillions on defense. Global military spending was pegged at $1.14 trillion in 2007, and has multiplied exponentially at the face of modern day terrorism. Global defense industry profits see double digit growth figures every year.
The honour for the biggest spender goes to the US of course. In the fiscal year 2015, US military spending is projected to be a total of $598.5 billion – 54% of all federal discretionary spending. It’s also the world’s biggest military weaponry supplier with. This is one market that’ll never dry up.
The global oil market is worth a whopping $2.5 trillion. Need we say more?
In a trade as opaque and volatile as this, forget about the underground dealing, even legitimate crude oil production profits show impressive double digit growth.
The world’s six most profitable oil companies bagged a total of $156 billion in 2008 alone! It’s no rocket science why shady oil barons swim in pools of cash.
5. Grey Market
Let’s talk numbers first. According to Havocscope, the market for counterfeits is worth over $100 billion for technology products, over $75 billion for fake pharmaceutical drugs, $60 billion for web video piracy and $18.2 billion for movie piracy.
Add to that other burgeoning markets like clothing or music piracy market and you have a giant right there.
Some form of sports is followed and celebrated across most countries in the world. If you buy a ticket to a match, or own official merchandise, or watch your favorite game on TV you are contributing to a billion dollar ecosystem. There are TV rights, merchandise sponsorships, tourism and a million other ways businesses make money.
The industry is so wide-spread and diverse that it’s difficult to figure out an exact figure. However, in the US, the sports market would be $400 to $425 billion annually. The retail sporting equipment sales alone is estimated to worth over $50 billion. The FIFA World Cup is expected to offer over $5 billion in revenue to investors!
Not to mention the underground (mostly) illegal betting world operated by bookies and the mafia.
Gambling heaven Las Vegas is cashes in over $20 billion in gambling revenues. Other global gambler’s paradises like Monte Carlo, Estonia and Macau are worth more! Such is the allure of the game that even virtual venues rake in billions in returns.
The global credit crunch brought the pre-tax profits of the world’s top 1,000 banks to a ‘mere’ $115 billion. If that seems less, take this – these banks hold $800 trillion in assets. No wonder they were the first to introduce the idea of quadrillion
Investment banking fees alone made banks $66 billion back in 2009. The US, Europe and China are some of the most profitable markets.
The world drank over 200 billion liters of alcohol back in 2004! The world’s five biggest alcohol companies are worth over $300 billion.
According to the WHO, the top alcohol companies are mostly in the developed nations and rank among the world’s largest transnational corporations. Another interesting fact – the top 5% drinkers consume about 42% of the alcohol sold, and minors gulp down about 17.5%.
Porn statistics are impossible to lay fingers on as the people in the trade don’t want to report it.
In 2006, a study pegged the global porn industry revenues at $97 billion. However, online and DVD piracy are chewing at the knees of this once booming market. However with nearly 28,000 Internet users watching porn every second, there’s a whole industry waiting to cash in man’s primary lust for flesh with X-rated video games, magazines, anime and manga. As long as people have sex, this industry is here to stay.
Source: Business Insider India
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