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Democratizing a divisive new tech. needn’t cost taxpayers anything. It can have swift economic impact.








Here’s the five key points about “Modern Markets for All”:


1) PROBLEM: Markets are vital but unequal

The financial sector has sucked resources out of “real” economies into its increasingly potent markets. Yes, loosening of controls on financial transactions helped. But labor markets were deregulated in the same timeframe. Sellers in those markets (ordinary people) haven’t seen anything like the income gains of big banks.

Could Quality of Marketplace be the differentiating factor? Financial exchanges are now unimaginably sophisticated, efficient, deep, proactive and lean. For us: There are many new markets in which we can sell our time. They are more convenient than old methods like flyers, print advertisements or street canvassing. But that doesn’t make them the best markets possible.

Truly state-of-the-art markets are concealed in Wall Street trading rooms. We have little concept of what they’re capable of. But we have all been impacted by their extraordinary capabilities.



2) SOLUTION: Define a state-of-the-art market for what ordinary people sell

The most impactful market for any commodity is; broad, deep, neutral, transparent, integrated into surrounding services and run accountability. It incentivizes reliable behaviour, freely shares (anonymized) data and has the lowest possible charges. Anyone is allowed to build improvements, or new tools, on top.

What does this look like when applied to what we, the people, have to sell? Imagine, one seamless online market where you can sell your hours across as many types of work as you are qualified for, with the market constantly identifying profitable new skills and routes to acquiring them. Perhaps the granular data show renting out your bike/dog/storage/willingness to take deliveries for neighbors could be unusually profitable? Imagine facilities like parallel economies, guaranteed work, reliability-records-as-bonds, turning skills gaps into automated investment instruments and peer-to-peer financial services blended in. Think of this service as National E-Markets (NEMs).

Huh? … Imagine describing universal, 24/7, instantly drinkable, water out of a kitchen tap to someone assuming any need to drink, cook or wash meant trekking to a river with a bucket. Anyone pushing the controversial notion of a public water supply in 1845 had that challenge. Likewise, immersion in the primitive, narrow, buyer-biased, high-overhead, markets in which we now sell our assets can make it hard to grasp how simple yet transformative a public utility version of Modern Markets could be.



3) IMPLEMENTATION: Maximizing choice, no cost to taxpayers

Public services can be initiated by unleashing the private sector. How are official lotteries created? Typically, government outlines; (a) a vision for the service (b) a package of benefits it can uniquely bestow on operators of the service (c) a set of accompanying obligations operators must accept (d) clear rules for selecting the operators. Typically they must be the consortium demanding lowest % of revenues to cover their costs.

All this gets embedded in non-partisan legislation. A bidding process establishes the winner. Government gets out of the way.

Now apply that to markets:

More detail

Crucially, there should be no barriers placed on any services competing with NEMs. This is about growing everyone’s trading choices. If business and public don’t use their new national markets, shareholders in the winning consortium will lose the hundreds of millions staked to set it up. Taxpayers aren’t on the line.



4) IMPACT: Potent, unknown, determined by the policy

If National E-Markets (NEMs) follow the trajectory of national lotteries and other official schemes, a huge raft of the population will quickly embrace the new facility. There should be no pre-ordained outcomes or social engineering attached to the project. A winning consortium needs to be able to drive NEMs to the biggest volumes of small transactions. But we can speculate on what that will do:

  • Attract deep pools of buyers and sellers allowing the markets to constantly diversify, creating new openings and efficiencies. There will be demand for your abilities around your area that you have no visibility of now. It could pay more than your current activities.
  • Make interventions to support the vulnerable uniquely cheap to target, administer and monitor.
  • Allow public services and assistance to become much more responsive and low-overhead.
  • Create constant investment openings in the bottom of the economy.



Would NEMs kill jobs, disproportionately empower large organizations or accrue manipulative power for its operators? It could. But public water supply could easily allow operators to hold cities to ransom, cutting off supply at will. So, the legislation had to be shaped to ensure it didn’t.



5) ABOUT US: 25 years in the making

In Britain, using legal frameworks to democratize emerging technologies shaped history. Our acts envisioning canals, gas, electricity, railways, water supply and postage as national infrastructure gave us a literate, mobile, interlocked society. That allowed one small country to dominate the globe in Victorian times. Other nations scrambled to catch-up.

Democratizing Modern Markets is rooted in work in London in the 1990’s. Books and articles forecast the Sharing Economy and its limitations. But the thinking emerged in the run up to 2001’s dot-com bubble and went largely unnoticed. A view that online markets are to be shaped exclusively to fit the aims of commercial operators has been hard to challenge.


To get moving, effort has focused on a small part of the NEMs vision: supporting public employment services into better markets for hourly work. Read about that here.


A full version of this site will soon be in place with these sections:


  • The problem

o   Modern Markets for Some

o   Today’s markets for the 99%

o   Why the inequality?

  • The Solution

o   Design spec.: The best possible markets for the 99%

o   Possibilities (including sample transactions in NEMs)

o   How is NEMs different?

  • Implementation

o   Shaping a legal framework

o   Awarding the concession

o   The policy/politics frame

  • Impact of NEMs

o   Economic growth and inclusiveness

o   Small government

o   National competitiveness

  • About us

o   History

o   Making it real

o   First steps