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Black market refers to a market for certain goods or services which are routinely traded in a discreet or underground manner contrary to the laws or regulations of the government in power. Black markets are commonly operated because of the substantial number of buyers who wish to evade restrictive government price controls or inconvenient rationing schemes, to avoid paying heavy taxes on the good or service in question, or simply to be able to obtain forbidden goods or services that the government prohibits consumers from purchasing.
Black markets vary greatly from one country to another and from one historical period to the next within any single country. In general, the more the government tries to dominate and control the economy, the larger the percentage of economic activity that takes place through the black market can be expected to be. In the United States, government efforts to regulate and restrict the economy have historically been much less extensive than in Communist or socialist countries. World War II rationing and price controls were accompanied by extensive black market activity involving illegal dealings in meat, sugar, automobile parts, penicillin and other regulated commodities as well as widespread evasion of rent controls. Even in relatively calm times, however, there are important areas of black market activity in the US economy. There is always a certain amount of illicit trade in stolen goods passed on directly (or indirectly, through "fences") from burglars, jewel thieves, cattle rustlers, hijackers, shoplifters,etc. Certain prohibited goods ar eoften traded on the balck market, such as narcotics and most other psychoactive recreational drugs, hard-core pornography, the services of prostitutes, false i.d. cards, ozone-depleting Freon for automobile air conditioners, Cuban cigars, and products of endangered animals.