NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wall Street can keep concentrating on the S&P 500, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and the Greek exit drama said Alexa Clay, co-author of The Misfit Economy. She is finding more relevant information about the future of the global economy watching hackers, Somali pirates and Amish camel milk producers.
"The misfit [economy] is really the black market and informal economies of the world," said Clay. "Besides the mainstream economy, around the world, the informal economy in certain countries is more than 70% of the total economy. And it can equate to $10 trillion, so these are huge economies that are completely understudied."
Clay is one of the cofounders of the League of Intrapreneurs, which seeks to create social change from within large companies. She is also the founder of Wisdom Hackers, an incubator for philosophical inquiry. Clay previously served as a director at Ashoka, a global nonprofit that invests in social entrepreneurs.
Clay offers five key principles for "unleashing your inner misfit": Hustle, Copy, Hack, Provoke and Pivot.
While Americans justifiably fear the types of hackers that are out to steal their identities and money, Clay made it clear that she does not condone or endorse that sort of behavior. What she's talking about is the "hacking ethos," which is more an outlook on how one attacks a problem. And in the cases she's focused on, the principle of "hacking" is also about taking on the establishment to change it for the better.
"Mark Zuckerberg recently called Facebook a hacker company," she said, "and while many people might disagree with that, I think you see ways in which the hacker ethos of trying to fix something from the inside, this obsessive desire for information to be free, is really transforming old cultures that really might be in need of a reboot."
As for promoting the concept of "copying", Clay said that while patents retain an important role in economic development and innovation, she is in favor of "knockoffs" as a method to spread new ideas and break the grip of monopolies.
"There's a lot that Western companies can learn from copycats, whether it's phone companies that are learning from the markets of Shenzen in China," said Clay. "Copycats ... allow products to diffuse and accelerate the pace of innovation, so you can customize for markets in the street in faster ways."