Economic growth: inclusive, green, no-cost.

THE PROBLEM: Modern Markets for Some

It’s worth analyzing the quality of diverse marketplaces. Doing so explains a lot about today’s economy.

 

 

 

Marking markets

Imagine you need to sell something: an old toy, a few hours of your time, meals in your restaurant, spare cash you want to lend; anything. The marketplace used to find buyers is crucial. What percentage of your potential buyers use it? How much control does it give you? Whose interests does it serve? What charges are imposed? How much data does it share?

Two decades ago, answers were similar for all goods and services. That’s shifted to shocking disparities across the economy, with little attention. We need to explore what’s happened. Here’s three pointers for our investigation in this section:

  • A market’s impact on sellers is key: Cool new ways to buy stuff are useful. But they won’t pay the bills. Economic impact comes from what any exchange does for its sellers.
  • Slick screens can mislead: A new market can feel empowering. But even in 2018, 36% of Americans  were gig workers, with 50% forecast. Analysis of market structures is vital.
  • Powerful markets can be out of sight: Even pre-Covid, 41% of America’s hourly employees didn’t know next week’s hours or pay. They are just told when, or if, their employer needs them day-to-day. These breadwinners are selling their time in a monopsony (a market with only one buyer). Those systems get a fraction of the scrutiny of high-profile gig work platforms.

 

In this section:

Contrast: A tale of two sales: Market inequality made tangible.

How did this happen?: Why did marketplace technologies evolve this way?

Consequences of Market Inequality: Financialization, and a race to floor on wages.