Updated Fri, Jun 03, 2011 by Space Junkie
Keeping current with this-ever changing whirlwind is a full-time job that leaves weekend warriors in the dust, and even the most dedicated traders can only hope to fully comprehend a small portion of the market at a time.
This guide takes a look at the state of the market at the start of summer (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) with an eye for helping people understand the economic forces at work and make sound long-term investments.
As with all economic articles, this is advice and not gospel. I indulge in a lot of speculation and repeat rumors as near-fact. In short, you should always do your own research before making any large investments.
Alas, Poor Technetium
Though technetium has long been king of commodities, all things come to an end.
First, there is the matter of the Northern Coalition. They have been the largest single source of technetium, and by all accounts they have used that leverage to force the price of technetium upwards. When perhaps a third of the production is within a single bloc, it should be a relatively simple matter to sit out of the market for a while to drive up scarcity. I and many others believe that they have done this.
With the immanent loss of of most (all?) of the Northern Coalition's territory, I don't see the new occupants sitting on their stockpiles, and I don't see those moons sitting empty for long enough to cause a real supply disruption. Without a cartel controlling the technetium moons anymore, the price will trend downwards. Since the Northern Coalition presumably retains their stockpiles of technetium, they will probably be dumping stock in an attempt to get rid of it before the market corrects itself. This will, of course, only hasten the process. How fast it falls depends on how many people have technetium stockpiles and how light a touch they have when using the market.
Second and more importantly, there is a wide consensus that CCP is probably going to nerf technetium in some time in next year, most likely in the winter when CCP will supposedly be working on improving null-security space and alliance warfare. This is one of those rumors that everybody was repeating at Fanfest like gospel, and it was certainly implied by Dr. Eyjo, CCP's in-house economist. This is credible for single simple reason: if CCP's winter expansion is aimed at "fixing" alliance warfare, it would be criminally insane to not fix them.
Sure, fighting over technetium is the main thing that drives alliance warfare, but there is no good reason for a single moon to be the sole source of contention, with most of the other moons being largely ignored when making strategic decisions. So it seems likely that some kind of moon rebalancing will occur to spread out their value a bit.
Even if these rumors are not true, the perception that they are true will fuel a lot of traders to divest themselves of any technetium stock, even as the prices sink from the termination of the northern cartel.
The Second Great Bot Banning
In mid-2009 there was an extremely successful purge of bot-using accounts. Some 6200 accounts were banned, probably users of the most popular mission-running scripts at the time.
Now, with CCP Sreegs working full time to catch these guys, it seems like a large number of players using some mining and marketing bots have been banned. Accordingly, the price of isotopes has jumped (this is also partly due to upcoming jump bridge changes), though the prices of other minerals seem to be holding steady.
Notably, the basic mineral zydrine continues its long, slow plunge as players in wormholes and null-sec continue to mine asteroids for it, seemingly with little produces by bots. Likewise, tritanium does not seem to have taken much of a hit despite constant claims that the bulk of it is mined by bots.
Though it would be nice to hope that the Jita market would be a bit less competitive sans market bots, I doubt anybody will notice. Local chat certainly hasn't gotten any less spam-filled.
Note that if we see another generation of mission bots get banned, there will likely be an increase in the value of all items that are mostly produced via loyalty points, especially implants and faction modules. That's what happened last time, anyway.