Spain's economic crisis, the government's response to it, and pervasive corruption have inspired a flowering of the black market economy.
FORTUNE -- Outside the front door of an IKEA in the Barcelona suburb of L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, a group of men -- mostly immigrants from Ecuador -- offer shoppers informal delivery services. In Spain's crisis economy, it's a competitive business -- to cut down on conflict, the drivers pick numbered balls to set a queue -- and with some negotiating, a shopper can get immediate delivery for less than what IKEA's official drivers charge.
It's also a sign of the huge boom in Spain's underground economy. According to a recent report by Spain's Ministry of Finance, at the end of 2012 the underground economy accounted for 24.6% of GDP, up from 17.8% at the time the crisis began in 2008. That's about double the rate in the U.K., France, and Germany.
"If we compare ourselves to Zimbabwe or Bolivia or countries like that, we're very good. If we compare ourselves to Greece, Italy, we're similar. If we compare ourselves to France, Germany, the U.K., Denmark, Sweden, we look very bad," says Jordi Sardà, the economics professor at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona who led the study.
Spain's economic crisis, the government's reaction to it, and pervasive political and business corruption have inspired a black market boom, says Sardà.
The crisis sent unemployment soaring from a pre-crisis low of 8% to 26% today, creating a p...