For centuries, markets were highly-personalized things, often controlled by select groups of people who traded based on long-established and closely-knit relationships. Closed networks -- such as merchant guilds in 16th century Europe -- could ensure trust between buyers and sellers by pushing out bad actors. But then, something happened that would eventually become the foundation of all modern markets. In the 1500s, new trade routes and the arrival of the printing press helped erode the power of merchant guilds and give way to a much more open system of trading where strangers could interact with each other.
On this edition of the Odd Lots podcast, Prateek Raj gives his theory about why modern markets first took hold in Northern Europe, and what this 500-year-old period of disruption can tell us about the world today.