I'm not an ecomonist, but have been tossing around some ideas in my head for a long time and thought I might ask here what resources or existing work might be out there.
There are a lot of market sectors where the cost of manufacturing one additional unit of a good is essentially zero. Almost all (or nearly all) of the cost is in development. It seems to me that the efficient market hypothesis must break down in this regime, since efficiency could always be increased by not redistributing goods but rather cloning them at no cost. I believe Pareto efficiency may not even apply in these markets. This is potentially a problem/opportunity for sectors such as software, music, news, website content in general, customer data, and more.
We see a variety of methods that have been adopted to help create more efficient markets. Subscription-based services, open-source software (the main currency there is not money), crowd-funding, snowdrift coop, and more. But I'm curious if there might exist a theoretical market economy that maintains some version of efficiency into this regime? Is there some modification to our current systems or some new form of currency that could be introduced that would self-regulate and optimize here? I'm not much concerned with practicality, just theory.
An alternative way of looking at this issue is that producing some types of goods necessarily benefits people who are not buyers or would not ordinarily be. From this perspective there might be other industries to consider such as public infrastructure, basic research, or military. Normally these are government-regulated, not market-regulated.
Anyway, that's the general scope of problems I've been thinking about. Is this even a real or recognized problem? Can it be measured? (I feel like the advertising industry may hold a key to measuring this, but I can't figure out how or even quite why.) How else is this effect characterized? What measures of efficiency have been proposed? Are there any solutions? I know I'm going to need additional education in this field, but I don't yet know which direction to head in. I feel like I might make some progress given some new definitions of efficiency and coding up simulations. (My background is in particle physics.) Existing terminology might help me search through literature.