Ok, so this post will be a bit off-the-wall, and I'm hoping more to generate comments than anything else. The gold blog community is awash in amazing posts right now with detailed lists on items to stockpile, items to dump, items to flip, and items to avoid. I can't say it enough, that's awesome. I would not describe my forte as being able to track down or even analyze item-related trends. I don't have the time or focus.
However, something that I've been mulling for a while and has been recently quasi-confirmed, is how the future of true WoW profit will arise. To somewhat cartoon it a bit, I think there are three main levels within the WoW economy:
Commodities or "origination"
This is the bread and butter of trade in WoW. Ore, leather, etc. Ok, we all get that. You originate the materials.
Value add items
This is the second tier of production, where a commodity is modified to add value. Cutting a raw gem is a fine example, or crafting blacksmithing items. If the commodity business is the bread and butter, this is the meat and potatoes (geesh, sorry, I'm writing this while Horde is finishing another lopsided loss in Wintergrasp). No explanation needed, really.
Most auctioneers fall into this category, on a small scale. Identify disequilibrium, profit, etc. No lecture needed for this part. HOWEVER, here's where it gets interesting. For a few months now, I've wondered when someone would string it all together and try to run an actual business in WoW. This is a truly derivative activity, and I'm not aware of it being done yet. It could take the form of insurance/annuities, or even basic savings/investment management (i.e., some poor soul who doesn't like to farm and is afraid of the AH gives you his hard earned 1k gold and you agree to pay interest on it or invest it and take a cut of the profit). The issues of collateral and counterparty risk are significant enough that I can see why this isn't common. I have read a few blurbs about it existing in another online game, but again I don't have time to research it and I'm not sure if it's an apples to apples comparison.
When I saw a post on another blog highlighting a new pay-based "remote auction house bot" that allows you to use the remote AH to buy/flip items, I thought two things: "uh oh" and "oh boy." I do not use this addon, nor can I see myself doing so. However, I think this is a watershed event. The program itself turns AHers into, essentially, day traders. Granted, the 200/day post limit is still hard-wired by Blizz, but I hope the significance of this is apparent...
Anyhow, I don't have any answers, and as stated originally I view this post as one long question. The comments I've received on this blog so far have been insightful and intelligent, so how do YOU feel about these developments? Where is WoW heading re: finance? Are there any true banks in WoW that you know of, and if not how long will it be?