Last edited 22 May 2019

Market value

Market value is defined as the underlying economic value of items such as goods and services. This is as opposed to other measures of value, such as moral values, socio-economic values, environmental values, values associated with beliefs and so on.

Market value is different to 'market price' which is the price that individuals and companies are prepared to pay for goods and services in a competitive market. This price will be determined by the scarcity of the product/service which is itself determined by supply and demand. The lower the supply, the greater will be the demand and therefore the price will be higher.

Expressed another way, the price that is determined by the interaction of supply and demand, and is an indicator of how important that item is perceived to be by the target audience.

Market value and market price may be equal but only under an efficient market where rational expectations prevail. Where this is not the case, a disequilibrium occurs so that the prevailing market price does not reflect the true market value. Some suggest that London’s high house prices reflect an inefficient market where people have irrational expectations; the prices asked for do not reflect the real value of houses.

Market value should also be distinguished from 'fair value' which may be agreed between two parties according to their individual beliefs. Thus, the sale price of a second-hand car may not reflect its actual market value if in the estimation of both parties a fair transaction has been achieved that fulfils both their economic and emotional needs.

However, defining value can be problematic, especially when market values and personal values are in conflict. An old broken watch may have a very low market value yet may have huge personal value to the owner.

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