What about the free market? Let me tell you about it. About a very particular city. The most wealthy on the continent. Part nineteen of my 2021 Worldbuilding Challenge inspired by this reddit post from a person named Faranesque:
Tourguide Mennes Walsky on why Kornushka is the best city under the sun
The Bargain City of Kornushka
You never know with what goods you will walk out of the Bargain City. It might be that you only needed a couple bails of gossamer and caterpillar silk, but once you you are done you have not only bought a full on boat, but some very peculiar crystals and a handful of cursed artifacts too.
If you are a trader of any kind on the other hand, Kornushka is most certainly a place of pilgrimage for you, at least once in your life. Nowhere can you learn so much about the different ways of your profession than here. You can watch the gasdrunken prospectors dance wildly in front of cheering, buying crowds, can look over the shoulders of Fatedreamer while they speak of the far future to wide eyed clientele and wander through the endless halls of the crimson Bazaar, to look at almost anything that is illegal, immoral and immensely dangerous or at least should fall into one of these categories.
There are two dozen Oligarchs overlooking the city and regulating its affairs on the out- and inside. Bribing officials and greasing the hands of criminals is common and often required to do anything. Money is the most important resource and there is plenty to go around. Kornushka has no enemies, even though it is seated in the warring lands of New Slomania, for they bought out everything around them to leave them. And why should anybody even attack it in the first place. It is a state of commerce. Every brass coin that is spend just fuels the economies of all the states around it. Wealth trickles down, they say, even though that is hardly the case most of the time. But it sounds nice, doesn’t it?