Front Page Titles (by Subject) Definition of Market. - The Theory of Political Economy
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Definition of Market. - William Stanley Jevons, The Theory of Political Economy 
The Theory of Political Economy (London: Macmillan, 1888) 3rd ed.
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Definition of Market.
Before proceeding to the Theory of Exchange, it will be desirable to place beyond doubt the meanings of two other terms which I shall frequently employ.
By a Market I shall mean much what commercial men use it to express. Originally a market was a public place in a town where provisions and other objects were exposed for sale; but the word has been generalised, so as to mean any body of persons who are in intimate business relations and carry on extensive transactions in any commodity. A great city may contain as many markets as there are important branches of trade, and these markets may or may not be localised. The central point of a market is the public exchange,—mart or auction rooms, where the traders agree to meet and transact business. In London, the Stock Market, the Corn Market, the Coal Market, the Sugar Market, and many others, are distinctly localised; in Manchester, the Cotton Market, the Cotton Waste Market, and others. But this distinction of locality is not necessary. The traders may be spread over a whole town, or region of country, and yet make a market, if they are, by means of fairs, meetings, published price lists, the post office, or otherwise, in close communication with each other. Thus, the common expression Money Market denotes no locality: it is applied to the aggregate of those bankers, capitalists, and other traders who lend or borrow money, and who constantly exchange information concerning the course of business.1
In Economics we may usefully adopt this term with a clear and well-defined meaning. By a market I shall mean two or more persons dealing in two or more commodities, whose stocks of those commodities and intentions of exchanging are known to all. It is also essential that the ratio of exchange between any two persons should be known to all the others. It is only so far as this community of knowledge extends that the market extends. Any persons who are not acquainted at the moment with the prevailing ratio of exchange, or whose stocks are not available for want of communication, must not be considered part of the market. Secret or unknown stocks of a commodity must also be considered beyond reach of a market so long as they remain secret and unknown. Every individual must be considered as exchanging from a pure regard to his own requirements or private interests, and there must be perfectly free competition, so that any one will exchange with any one else for the slightest apparent advantage. There must be no conspiracies for absorbing and holding supplies to produce unnatural ratios of exchange. Were a conspiracy of farmers to withhold all corn from market, the consumers might be driven, by starvation, to pay prices bearing no proper relation to the existing supplies, and the ordinary conditions of the market would be thus overthrown.
The theoretical conception of a perfect market is more or less completely carried out in practice. It is the work of brokers in any extensive market to organise exchange, so that every purchase shall be made with the most thorough acquaintance with the conditions of the trade. Each broker strives to gain the best knowledge of the conditions of supply and demand, and the earliest intimation of any change. He is in communication with as many other traders as possible, in order to have the widest range of information, and the greatest chance of making suitable exchanges. It is only thus that a definite market price can be ascertained at every moment, and varied according to the frequent news capable of affecting buyers and sellers. By the mediation of a body of brokers a complete consensus is established, and the stock of every seller or the demand of every buyer brought into the market. It is of the very essence of trade to have wide and constant information. A market, then, is theoretically perfect only when all traders have perfect knowledge of the conditions of supply and demand, and the consequent ratio of exchange; and in such a market, as we shall now see, there can only be one ratio of exchange of one uniform commodity at any moment.
So essential is a knowledge of the real state of supply and demand to the smooth procedure of trade and the real good of the community, that I conceive it would be quite legitimate to compel the publication of any requisite statistics. Secrecy can only conduce to the profit of speculators who gain from great fluctuations of prices. Speculation is advantageous to the public only so far as it tends to equalise prices; and it is, therefore, against the public good to allow speculators to foster artificially the inequalities of prices by which they profit. The welfare of millions, both of consumers and producers, depends upon an accurate knowledge of the stocks of cotton and corn; and it would, therefore, be no unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject to require any information as to the stocks in hand. In Billingsgate fish market there was long ago a regulation to the effect that salesmen shall fix up in a conspicuous place every morning a statement of the kind and amount of their stock.1 The same principle has long been recognised in the Acts of Parliament concerning the collection of statistics of the quantities and prices of corn sold in English market towns. More recently similar legislation has taken place as regards the cotton trade, in the Cotton Statistics Act of 1868. Publicity, whenever it can thus be enforced on markets by public authority, tends almost always to the advantage of everybody except perhaps a few speculators and financiers.
[]I find that Cournot has long since defined the economical use of the word market, with admirable brevity and precision, but exactly to the same effect as the text above. He incidentally says in a footnote (Récherches sur les Principes Mathématiques de la Théorie des Richesses, Paris, 1838, p. 55), "On sait que les économistes entendent par marché, non pas un lieu déterminé ou se consomment les achats et les ventes, mais tout un territoire dont les parties sont unies par des rapports de libre commerce, en sorte que les prix s'y nivellent avec facilité et promptitude."
[71.]Waterston's Cyclopœdia of Commerce, ed. 1846, p. 466.