The wonders of nanotechnology, and access to those wonders, have created new economic structures among Transhumanity. These economic structures can be divided into three broad categories — the old economy, the transitional economy, and the new economy.
Across the solar system, monetary units have been homogenized into a standardized unit known as the Credit. Although seldom used and often scorned within New Economy habitats, the Credit is required for any goods in Old Economy habs and used to acquire goods not available commonly to all in Transitional Economy habs.
The Old Economy is essentially the same old industrial consumer capitalist bill of rights passed down since the 19th century from manufacturers who create goods and then sell those goods to their consumer base. Modern manufacturers now make their goods in cornucopia machines instead of factories. Direct access to cornucopia machines by the general public is not allowed; these machines are always controlled by the hypercorps, governments, or wealthy individuals. Poverty is relatively common. The poorest individuals often face hunger, homelessness, lack of medical care, and similarly dire problems. Old economy societies are unique in that money is the society’s only acceptable means of exchange. While reputation networks exist, they are informal and serve as an unsanctioned means of exchanging favors.
The Transitional Economy blends old and new economies, and habitats using this system feature both private ownership of cornucopia machines as well as public fabbers and makers that are freely accessible. These public machines are strictly limited in the goods they can produce. In addition, the raw materials for various complex goods are also strictly regulated. For the inhabitants of a transitional economy, creating food, non-smart clothing, furniture, and most other simple, non-formatible objects is a trivial matter. any of these items requires little more than the machine and a supply of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, silicon, iron, aluminum, and tiny amounts of various trace materials. All of these materials are sufficiently abundant that acquiring them is easy and inexpensive. Both reputation and money are in widespread use in societies with a transitional economy, and most have developed ways to accommodate both forms of payment. While residents primarily use money for purchasing goods, purchasing cornucopia machine templates involves rep, especially among residents who regularly visit new economy societies or have significant contacts there.
The New Economy allows individuals to freely manufacture and use almost anything they want, assuming they can acquire the correct templates and raw materials. As a result, the residents’ need for food, clothing, medical care, information access, and other basic needs are all easily met. All residents who meet certain criteria (citizenship or public works, most commonly) are given a basic daily allowance of goods and energy. However, there are still items of value that individuals work very hard to obtain. Individuals who wish to exceed their basic citizenship allowance can either use rep to obtain more access to resources and energy, or they can pool their resources with others to accomplish their goals.