(originally posted here on 15 Jul 2005)
Farmers in the rural community have become the first in South Africa to test a project giving them instant access to produce prices over their cellphones.
Real time prices are hot. So is cutting out the middleman. Those middlemen were not parasites, however. They were providing a useful service as information brokers, but no career in Information is safe from the disruptive effects of the silicon chip.
Good prices are more important than they seem. The failure of socialism is due less to its cliched neglect of human nature, and more to its inability to provide accurate prices! The most egregious example of a parasitic-seeming information broker might be the Arbitrageur who makes millions simply trading dollars for yen, earning a profit on the differences in value, but also eliminating them and stabilizing the currency markets. And finally, here is a fascinating piece about the scuttled terrorism futures market and the fallacy that orange juice prices are a spookily effective predictor of crop weather. Prices are good, but they’re not quite that good!