The Return of Trade!

medievaltrade

Ah, the market: a place that has existed for as long as humans have traded.  And humans always trade.  Whether it is food, information, services, or a friendly “hello”, humans love to trade with one another.  It’s what we do!  We are social creatures, and nothing is more social than trade (especially trading conversation!)

What is fascinating is how “the market” has evolved throughout time.  From early bartering systems, to centralized market locations, to different kingdoms and different currencies, to countries and international markets.  It has seemed that there has always been a push toward centralization, to decrease Transaction cost and make it easier to find what you need.

In modern times, we less often see traditional market stalls, and more frequently just head over to our nearest [company name here].  They have lower prices and are easier to find and reach.  But the power of the internet and communications technology is lowering this need.

The peer-to-peer success of things like eBay and Bitcoin are just two of many examples of the continuing desire for people to trade between each other.  And there is an interesting phenomena happening now that the internet is more accessible than ever:  the emergence of a “gig economy”, or increase in “temporary employment”, or “freelancing”. Peer-to-peer trade of Services are here, and it holds exciting possibilities.

temp_labor_stats
Trends in Temporary Work (US): source: D. H. Author, Outsourcing at Will: The Contribution of Dismissal Doctrine to the Growth of Employment Outsourcing.  [Wikipedia:Temporary_work]
There are, as with anything, Pros and Cons to this peer-to-peer economy.  However, I think that humans will naturally look to each other to find what they need, regardless of who the major companies are at any given point in time.  And so, an interesting concept of research (and most likely entrepreneurship) would be to work with this inherent human desire of trade.

It may seem like Amazon has everything, but that is simply impossible.  It is impossible for one entity to own everything (throughout history, many monarchs or dictators have tried to do this, and none have truly succeeded).

cfca39633b138062e551312b8cfff774
“Let’s see what you’ve got for sale!”

I think it would definitely be pretty cool to set up your own “market stall” on the internet.  But with more than just physical goods like eBay, it would be amazing to do some searches like “I have knowledge about _____”, and be linked to a peer-to-peer tutoring site, to a person who wants help on that subject.

There are many types of resources, to name a few:

  • Physical goods (stuff you would normally think about)
  • Intellectual resources (knowledge, teachings, experiences)
  • Time.  (“I’ve got some extra time, who needs some help?”)

And even things physical things like Computing Resources (extra CPU you aren’t using), or be able to provide Services that you didn’t even realize you had skills in!  (I know that I’ve been asked to grab something from the top shelf in a grocery at some point in time… there’s a brief service that I wouldn’t normally think would help somebody!)

Get excited for the future of the economy!  More importantly, discover how you want to get involved in it.  There are so many niches out there, and so many possibilities!  And so, as is my custom with discussions in economics, I will end with some quotes from Benjamin Franklin:

Employ thy Time well if thou meanest to gain Leisure ; and,
since thou art not sure of a Minute, throw not away an Hour.

Leisure, is Time for doing something useful; this Leisure the diligent Man will obtain, but the lazy Man never; …

a Life of Leisure and a Life of Laziness are two Things.

 

From The Way to Wealth

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