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ECON 2001/ Fall 2017 / The Underground Economy

Grade Value: 30%


APA bibliography/citation format required (20% of mark deducted for missing citations – citations required within body of essay and also complete bibliography required)

Please see “Avoiding Plagiarism” and APA guideline linked documents on Blackboard


This assignment is to be done on an individual basis


Take – Home Essay: 1000 – 1200 Words; 4-5 pages typed

(in Times New Roman 12pt.)


Please Choose One of the following topics:


1. Bias vs. Truth


The media coverage of many important world issues needs to be carefully assessed for inherent biases related to key factors including: political agenda, economic interests, advertiser pressure and media ownership. In an effort to present an unbiased view of an issue it is important to consider a number of sources, reflecting various views. Identify an area of the underground economy and provide an objective view of the issue, using a variety of print media sources that reflect different political viewpoints (i.e. left vs. right)


In examining and attempting to answer the above question a number of issues should be covered, including: Is the media outlet providing a left, right, or balanced view? What is the evidence of this? Whose interests are reflected in how the story is being presented? What incentives are creating this particular viewpoint?




2. Decriminalization and Legalisation of Drugs?

The decriminalization and/or legalisation of drugs is a highly contentious issue with many political, legal, economic, and social implications. A number of political jurisdictions – including Portugal, Uruguay, and a number of US states have either decriminalized or legalised one or a number of recreational drugs. Based on the recent federal Liberal party promise to legalize marijuana, develop a report- focussed on Canada- evaluating the impact on the underground economy and the implications for the legal economy. Political, legal, economic, and social impacts should be considered.

You should also consider the differences between decriminalization and legalization and their respective impacts. Be sure to evaluate both the demand and supply side issues and impacts – including those affecting other states or countries which have not decriminalized or legalized the drug(s)


3. The Underground Economy in Colombia


The country of Colombia presents an important and interesting case study of the underground economy. The intersection of guns, drugs, and terrorism with politics, economics, and international intervention present an opportunity to research and report on what is happening in this country, what are some potential outcomes, and the reasons why.


Your response to this should take into account the main groups involved in the struggle and their relationships to the underground economy.











4. The Future of the Underground Economy


Look ahead into the murky world of forecasting and put together a report on what the future of the underground economy may look like in 10 – 20 years’ time. You may want to focus on one or two areas of criminal activity. This should not be based on science fiction but emerging trends that form a basis for your hypotheses.


Your response to this should factor in developments in technology, society and culture, politics, and the legal system. Consideration of economic incentives is also important.



5. Alternative Digital Currencies ( Bitcoin, Litecoin and others)


Alternative digital currencies represent a major innovation in the evolution of money. While not actually legal tender they are growing rapidly in popularity and usage. The main benefits of Bitcoin and others relate to their protection of user anonymity, minimal transaction fees, and their independence from both government control and the banking system. These alternative currencies have been very controversial due to their use as a preferred method of payment in the underground and black market economy. Your paper should evaluate the future potential these currencies becoming mainstream money. The report should address both the opportunities and challenges facing these currencies and the implications regarding their potential impact on society- including the economy, government, the banking system, as well as the regulatory environment ( eg. law enforcement and policy issues).




The research paper will be graded based on:

– the breadth of research done and insights uncovered

– the level of understanding of the subject material

– how well material is related to concepts covered in the course,

– the logic and organization of the report

– ability to focus on the issue within 4-5 pages

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