Perhaps the most important element of Terran society is the economy. The primary commodity in the economy is information. To control the intellectual property inherent in the design of goods, the corps maintain their own factories, manufacturing state-of-the-art products with sophisticated anti-tamper nanodefences. Many corporations place their older designs into the public domain so that people can produce them in their own autofacs; this practice provides good PR for the corporation and allows the customer to try out an earlier version of the product before buying a never one.
The widespread use of molecular fabrication has essentially completed the transition to a post-industrial society, with cheap raw materials supplied from the lunar mines and power from solar power sats and cool fusion reactors. However, this is not to say that there are no expensive material commodities. For example, the limited supply of planetary surface has kept the price of real estate high and there is still a thriving market in certifiably handmade items (and especially works of art).
The Terran economy is still dominated by the great metanational corporations. However, especially since the Great Collapse, these are decentralised organisations, with divisions often changing ownership and little in the way of hierarchy. Individual groups and subsidiaries are often entirely self-contained and their transference is usually smooth (the recent acquisition of Transgene and Sun Nanosystems by Cyrax is a notable exception).
Controls on corporate activities are provided by feedback loops through autonomous organizations. Regulatory bodies sell their investigative services to other corporations or individuals, who may then use the information obtained to choose the best services. This leads to strong competition between rivals and ensures the high quality of products. In the case of immoral activities by corporate bodies, information gathered by disinterested parties is used in publicity campaigns; the maintenance of a positive image is of vital importance for companies and consortia.
Each of the metanats produces products for a wide range of markets, but each also has its own particular core field.
There is not a single Terran currency; banks and polities each issue their own 'coins', which can be interconverted by various 'money servers'. The most widely used and stable of these currencies is the denarius issued by First Global, the largest of the Orbital banks, but there are many other important ones such as the MetaSoft credit, the AmeriCorp dollar and the Praesidial euromark.
The future of Ad Astra