PBHead mentioned the idea for a derivatives market in a different post about the Hacker Array... and I wanted to flesh out the idea a little more. I think its a fantastic idea that would add a realistic feel without being too complicated to grasp.
Replace the Hacker Array with a Futures Market. Its still a building that gets made but it gives you access to a different way to make money that does not effect the current production goods market.
The interface for the current hacker array would stay the same, simply change the buttons to Put/Call (put- price goes down, call- price goes up). After a player selects put or call, another splash screen pops up with the contract (EX: Chem, 500 units, Strike (current) $75, Day 4, $90, ). The player enters the units, the day, and the final price guess. I know this will be difficult to predict as total length of any game is variable, but a moving 7 day window should work.
So day 4 rolls around and the contract expires... If the player's instinct is exactly precise, then the player will be rewarded with $7500 (price difference x units). If the player is close to the final price, then a sliding percentage is calculated, with a cap at both ends... the final price must be within $10 to receive anything. If the price finishes outside the $10 deviation, then the player loses the max of $7500... taken from cash (margin call) with any remainder going to debt.
A distant prediction can be rewarded or penalized with an additional modifier. 1 day, none, 2 day 10%, day 3, 25%....
I think this mechanic can add an additional level of deep thinking and analysis of the players, map, current situation... everything.
Look forward to hear what you guys think.