5 Scenarios, 3 - National Identity Market

As the stalwarts of nationhood were absorbed into corporate infrastructure, auctions were held for the pieces of states that were deemed unnecessary for the business plans of the financial services. These auctions were similar to the asset auctions of 20th century mergers and acquisitions but differed in the content of the assets. These market waters were new, everything had it's own potential value. The worth of border defence infrastructure for instance; the systems of passport control, software, hardware, staff and procedures were negligible in a transnational economy, but when the same principles and technology are applied to sole traders in restrictive market bands, the uniquely paranoid security systems developed by nations provide a boon for protecting sensitive trading arenas from volatile activity.

This was the way with much of the civic infrastructure that remained, forcibly mutated to prop up the inheritance of a demanding populace. But it was with the excess - the stranger little remnants of patriotism - that the real innovation arose. Obscure instruments constructed from the remnants of national identity were snapped up by 'collectors': the stone of ancient statues, the marble of monuments, the canvas of flags, the distribution rights on national anthems, footage of national occasions and all the other varied ephemera associated with the constituent parts of a nation, presented - in totality - a potential for value greater than the debts, bonds and revenues of these ancient, dribbling bureaucratic goliaths.

One trader - LuCkYmIcKeY84 - manage to seep their way into 20 year maturity contracts on a vast quantity of cheap oil paintings populating pubs, hotels, tea shops and stately homes under the jurisdiction of the English Heritage Company and various other charities in the 2040s. LuCkYmIcKeY84 only held the contracts on around 1 - 5% of the works in any given location and so went unnoticed on a macro scale, but the sheer quantity at that level of finance led to billions of Euros worth of oil in 20 year swap terms.

Of course, the cost of a resource is determined by two mutually-dependent key factors - firstly the scarcity of the material and the demand for it, and secondly, the degree to which any actor is willing to go to in order to extract it. In the case of LuCkYmIcKeY84, the enormous and costly task of distilling oil from the paintings was disproportionate to their value as is in situe, but it still represented one of the largest oil reserves held by a sole trader in the world. The 20 year maturity on the contracts and the fear of dwindling oil supplies offset its real worth and the whole collection was insured for survival by its value as 'art' while the desire for its preservation by the various caretakers of pubs and stately homes all over what was left of England guaranteed security.

This story is an exception, but an exception of a trend that blossomed in the wake of the mergers, folding and the collapse of nations the world over, an entire market - the National Identities Market - that maximised the profitability of ancient patriotism. Taking it from some ethereal, state-mythos to a real value in the abstract mathematics of derivatives. The National Identities Market naturally evolved to reassign the urgency of preservation and insurance in heritage from an ideological obsession to good business sense.