Market (economics)

A market is one of the many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services (including labor power) in exchange for money from buyers. It can be said that a market is the process by which the prices of goods and services are established. Markets facilitate trade and enable the distribution and resource allocation in a society. Markets allow any trade-able item to be evaluated and priced. A market emerges more or less spontaneously or may be constructed deliberately by human interaction in order to enable the exchange of rights (cf. ownership) of services and goods. Markets generally supplant gift economies and are often held in place through rules and customs, such as a booth fee, competitive pricing, and source of goods for sale (local produce or stock registration).

Markets can differ by products (goods, services) or factors (labour and capital) sold, product differentiation, place in which exchanges are carried, buyers targeted, duration, selling process, government regulation, taxes, subsidies, minimum wages, price ceilings, legality of exchange, liquidity, intensity of speculation, size, concentration, exchange asymmetry, relative prices, volatility and geographic extension. The geographic boundaries of a market may vary considerably, for example the food market in a single building, the real estate market in a local city, the consumer market in an entire country, or the economy of an international trade bloc where the same rules apply throughout. Markets can also be worldwide, see for example the global diamond trade. National economies can also be classified as developed markets or developing markets.

In mainstream economics, the concept of a market is any structure that allows buyers and sellers to exchange any type of goods, services and information. The exchange of goods or services, with or without money, is a transaction.[1] Market participants consist of all the buyers and sellers of a good who influence its price, which is a major topic of study of economics and has given rise to several theories and models concerning the basic market forces of supply and demand. A major topic of debate is how much a given market can be considered to be a "free market", that is free from government intervention. Microeconomics traditionally focuses on the study of market structure and the efficiency of market equilibrium; when the latter (if it exists) is not efficient, then economists say that a market failure has occurred. However, it is not always clear how the allocation of resources can be improved since there is always the possibility of government failure.

Types of markets

A market is one of the many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services (including labor) in exchange for money from buyers. It can be said that a market is the process by which the prices of goods and services are established. Markets facilitate trade and enables the distribution and allocation of resources in a society. Markets allow any trade-able item to be evaluated and priced. A market sometimes emerges more or less spontaneously or may be constructed deliberately by human interaction in order to enable the exchange of rights (cf. ownership) of services and goods.

Markets of varying types can spontaneously arise whenever a party has interest in a good or service that some other party can provide. Hence there can be a market for cigarettes in correctional facilities, another for chewing gum in a playground, and yet another for contracts for the future delivery of a commodity. There can be black markets, where a good is exchanged illegally, for example markets for goods under a command economy despite pressure to repress them and virtual markets, such as eBay, in which buyers and sellers do not physically interact during negotiation. A market can be organized as an auction, as a private electronic market, as a commodity wholesale market, as a shopping center, as a complex institution such as a stock market and as an informal discussion between two individuals.

Markets vary in form, scale (volume and geographic reach), location and types of participants as well as the types of goods and services traded. The following is a non exhaustive list:

Physical consumer markets

Physical business markets

  • Physical wholesale markets: sale of goods or merchandise to retailers; to industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business users or to other wholesalers and related subordinated services
  • Markets for intermediate goods used in production of other goods and services
  • Labor markets: where people sell their labour to businesses in exchange for a wage
  • Online auctions and Ad hoc auction markets: process of buying and selling goods or services by offering them up for bid, taking bids and then selling the item to the highest bidder
  • Temporary markets such as trade fairs
  • Energy markets

Non-physical markets

  • Media markets (broadcast market): is a region where the population can receive the same (or similar) television and radio station offerings and may also include other types of media including newspapers and Internet content
  • Internet markets (electronic commerce): trading in products or services using computer networks, such as the Internet
  • Artificial markets created by regulation to exchange rights for derivatives that have been designed to ameliorate externalities, such as pollution permits (see carbon trading)

Financial markets

Financial markets facilitate the exchange of liquid assets. Most investors prefer investing in two markets:

There are also:

  • Currency markets are used to trade one currency for another, and are often used for speculation on currency exchange rates
  • The money market is the name for the global market for lending and borrowing
  • Futures markets, where contracts are exchanged regarding the future delivery of goods are often an outgrowth of general commodity markets
  • Prediction markets are a type of speculative market in which the goods exchanged are futures on the occurrence of certain events; they apply the market dynamics to facilitate information aggregation
  • Insurance markets
  • Debt markets

Unauthorized and illegal markets