What Governments Can Do, “Public Official E-Markets” – A Look Back To The 1930s & Ahead To Post Covid-19 Recovery

Webinar Recording

Marketplaces are evolving in ways that can seem to be stacked against regular people. Some claim that aggressive new labour markets like Uber mislead work-seekers, slash pay, withhold data, systematically undermine regulation, impede training, and lobby against worker rights. They claim Uber is not an outlier; it’s a pathfinder for labour market platforms covering thousands of sectors. Some point out a link with corporate employees are increasingly deployed in line with their employer’s hour-by-hour needs. New scheduling software puts businesses under competitive pressure to adopt these one-sided efficiencies. Yet others point to some of the flexibilities and freedoms in a ‘gig’ economy. Economists might even invoke the equity that should result from open, competitive, and fair markets.

Whatever, about 50% of workers now rely on at least some ad-hoc economic activity, much of it in shadow economies. A cheapened, commoditized, workforce with little chance of progression wastes economic potential. That’s a problem for governments. Many are getting increasingly radical in their thinking: Universal Basic Income, a Green New Deal free tuition, and other taxpayer-funded reform ideas are gaining traction worldwide. But Britain leads with an alternative path: comprehensive online markets that use new tools, personalised data, and interface into official facilities to unlock the economic potential of citizens and local businesses. Tony Blair’s government funded the core of infrastructure ideas behind Public Official E-Markets; David Cameron’s team advanced it further. Similar non-profit markets have been launched by public bodies in Los Angeles County. Join this webinar to explore how government support of e-markets might lead to a better result for all workers.

Read Wingham's recent pamphlateers article here: A New Asset Class: Investing In Workers’ Potential?


Wingham Rowan is the former anchor and producer of Britain’s longest running TV series about the Internet. While working on that series he approached the think tank Demos to develop possibilities around how any government could initiate much better markets for local businesses and people at the bottom of the economy.

Books, articles, policy papers and a TED talk followed. In 2005 the UK government funded a first build of the technologies developed by Rowan’s team. Those markets – providing an empowering alternative to “gig work” platforms – were launched by 20 city authorities before being absorbed into central government’s Universal Credit scheme.

Funded by four national US philanthropies, those markets have now been launched by public agencies in Los Angeles County. The launch project won US Conference of Mayors’ prize for best economic development initiative in America. Rowan has led the US launch team while running the MM4A non-profit.

As governments explore increasingly radical policy possibilities post-Covid, the wider vision of governments initiating better markets across the entire micro-economy in partnership with financiers and technologists is gaining traction. Rowan has become something of an expert on this emerging area of policy. www.ModernMarketsforAll.org

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

10:00 - 10:45 London Time


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  • Wingham Rowan.png
    Wingham Rowan
    Founder and Chief Executive
  • Simon Mills
    Simon Mills
    Z/Yen Group