LIFE ON TITAN
Just like any other economy, the economy of Misplaced Optimism is based on goods for trade, services rendered and finance. The mainstay of the economy is trading goods. Bounty hunting is about the only service you get paid for and the only financial institutions are loan sharks.
At the top of the goods scale are complex, expensive items like Moths or weapons. At the bottom are things like mining products: ore, gems, chemicals. These items may be valuable, but they're basic items directly derived form the planet itself. Between high-end and base items are "intermediate" items like SheetMetal, ExMetal, and CompComp. These intermediate items are made by manufacturers that make them from base items they purchase.
To give you an idea of how this system works, lets look at the manufacture of a Moth. To get a Moth dealer, like Downtown Moths, to make a Moth, you must supply them with: Sheet Metal, Plastics, CompComp, MachParts, Lasers, Cells, Ore, and Food. Ore and Food are the only base items. The other items, like Sheet Metal, must, in turn, be manufactured from base items. In Sheet Metal's case it can come from Ore processed by the Ore Processing plants Downtown or from Scrap Metal processed by the recycling centers.
A simpler "two-tiered" example would be Alcohol. Alcohol is made from Chemicals and Pure Water, which are base items. It is sold directly to bars. You can pick up some Chemicals and Pure Water at Sewage Treatment, Downtown, and sell them to Waterfront Booze, Riverside, and Waterfront Booze will produce some Alcohol. You can purchase this Alcohol and sell it at a bar like The Slum for a tidy profit.
In a nutshell, this is how the economy of Titan works. Goods come from the mines, water purifiers, scrap from dogfights, etc. They're sold to processing plants like Ore Processing that manufacture intermediate products, like Sheet Metal and ExMetal, from them. These intermediate items are sold to other manufacturers, like Moth dealers, to produce high-end items like Moths and weapons. Titan's economy is pretty much three-tiered as described.
If something happens to the smooth flow of base items (Ore, Chemicals, Scrap Metal, Gems, Food, and Pure Water), the economy slows. It's difficult for the flow of base items to be stopped, but there are slow-downs if there are too many pirates in Haven and Midway attacking Ore bearing traders. In such cases, the prices of certain items can go up.
Supply and demand play a role in the value of trade goods. If there's a shortage, prices go up. They also go up if a business needs a particular item badly. Prices stay stable if the supply is good. As a rule, the further you have to transport an item, the more you'll profit from it. Of course, the more apt you are to be attacked by pirates, too.
Business in Misplaced Optimism cannot be as easily categorized as the trade goods. Many businesses, like component manufacturers, buy and sell a variety of products from various "tiers" of goods. Below is a description of the more common types of businesses. Check the Geography Page for specific business locations, needs, and goods they sell.
Processing Plants -- These businesses buy base items and convert them into intermediate or finished goods. An example would be Waterfront Booze. They buy Chemicals and Pure Water and produce Alcohol. Another example would be the recycling plants. They buy Scrap Metal (left over from dogfights and collected by scavengers) and produce Sheet Metal and ExMetal.
Component Shops -- These shops buy some base and intermediate goods and produce other intermediate and high-end goods like Cells and Chaff. It's a real mix, but these are important businesses to figure out. TechParts, Downtown right below Light Well #3, is the simplest example. They buy Chemicals, Food, and other items and produce CompComp. Downtown Components is more complex buying many more items and producing all sorts of neat Moth accessories like Cells and Chaff.
Moth Dealers -- These fellows are at the top of the heap buying a variety of items to produce various Moths. You can trade with them and restrict their purchases to get them to make a Death's Head or Police Moth for you. It takes a lot of trade runs and manipulation, but it's well worth it.
Weapons Dealers/Manufacturers -- Businesses like Psycho Bob's are primarily weapons dealers. He buys finished weapons and resales them. Specialty weapons businesses, like Dr. Jobes, Gamma, buy a variety of items and produce specialized weapons like GroundBase missiles or Holograms. The specialty weapons shops rarely buy finished weapons. They buy base and intermediate goods like Gems and MachParts, and Explosives.
Bars -- Places like the Shanty Inn, The Slum, and The Afterdark buy Alcohol, Huskar Cigars, and Narcotics. There's a lot of this stuff floating around Misplaced Optimism and they're all quite valuable. Especially Narcotics which will sell at over $3000/unit. They're good places to find Food, too. You'll be doing a lot of business with these places.
Construction Companies -- These businesses, like Alpha Construction, buy ConstMat and Food. They're about the only people, besides Trading Posts, that buy ConstMat. On the other end of the construction spectrum are the Real Estate Companies, like Downtown Estates. They sell hangars and only buy Food.
There's a myth about Hardwar that supplying the Construction companies can 1) get them to build a hangar for you, and 2) make unavailable hangars suddenly available for sale. These aren't true. No new hangars can be built (at least in the current versions of the game). The only way to bring unavailable hangars onto the market is to buy up the currently available ones.
Trading Posts -- Most craters have one. They buy low and sell at a pretty low price. There's some bargains to find if they've got something you need. Their biggest advantage is that they'll buy anything. This is really handy when you've got to sell a cargo quickly before pirates kill you. An essential service they provide are the "trading menus" described on the Trading Basics Page
Repair Shops -- Like the Breaker Makers, will buy Cells, Engines, Pods, and Drones. They're a great place to sell the occassionally pirated Salvage Drone. When you see their repair prices you'll see the value in owning your own hangar where you can repair yourself for free.
Finance Companies -- They'll give you a loan at a pretty reasonable interest rate. They don't buy anything.
Just about everyone buys Food. The bars generally pay best.
Avoid selling at Trading Posts unless you just have to. They don't pay nearly as well as other businesses for most items, especially weapons and contraband (Narcotics,etc.). They're a good place to buy stuff if they've got what you want.
If you're running a regular trade route, like when you're supplying Downtown Moths for a Police Moth, makes sure to lock the buildings in your Nav Menu. This saves a lot of dallying when pirates are after you.
I owe Nar Sluke a lot for sending me all of his discoveries concerning Titan's economy. You ought to check out his site.
Related Sectons:Trading Basics
Who Buys What?
How to Trade for a Fusion Cell
How to Trade for a Death's Head or Police Moth