2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Business

A market is a social arrangement that allows buyers and sellers to discover information and carry out a voluntary exchange of goods or services. It is one of the two key institutions that organize trade, along with the right to own property. Allowing markets to arrive at a pareto efficient outcome is one of the key components of capitalism.

In everyday usage, the word "market" may refer to the location where goods are traded, sometimes known as a marketplace, or to a street market.


The function of a market requires, at a minimum, that both parties expect to become better off as a result of the transaction. Markets generally rely on price adjustments to provide information to parties engaging in a transaction, so that each may accurately gauge the subsequent change of their welfare. In less sophisticated markets, such as those involving barter, individual buyers and sellers must engage in a more lengthy process of haggling in order to gain the same information. Markets are efficient when the price of a good or service attracts exactly as much demand as the market can currently supply. The chief function of a market, then, is to adjust prices to accommodate fluctuations in supply and demand in order to achieve allocative efficiency.

An economic system in which goods and services are exchanged by market functions is called a market economy. An alternative economic system in which non-market forces (often government mandates) determine prices are called planned economies or command economies. The attempt to combine socialist ideals with the incentive system of a market is known as market socialism.

Types of markets

Although many markets exist in the traditional sense--such as a flea market--there are various other types of them and various organizational structures to assist their functions.

A market can be organized as an auction, as a shopping centre, as a complex institution such as a stock market, and as an informal discussion between two individuals.

In economics, a market that runs under laissez-faire policies is a free market. It is "free" in the sense that the government makes no attempt to intervene through taxes, subsidies, minimum wages, price ceilings, etc. Markets may be distorted by a seller or sellers with monopoly power, or a buyer with monopsony power. Also, the level of organization or negotiation power of buyers, markedly affects the functioning of the market. Markets where price negotiations do not arrive at efficient outcomes for both sides are said to experience market failure.

Most markets are regulated by state wide laws and regulations.

While barter markets exist, most markets use currency or some other form of money.

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 and virtual markets, such as eBay in which buyers and sellers do not physically interact. There can also be markets for goods under a command economy despite pressure to repress them.

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