In Eve there are three levels of technology, named not very originally Tech 1, Tech 2, and Tech 3. For most even moderately experienced players Tech 2 is the standard.
Tech 2 items are made partly from moon minerals which are uniquely owned by large alliances in null sec and deep low sec. (For all intents and purposes the low sec element can be disregarded as a separate factor since most valuable low sec moons are owned by major null sec spaceholders).
Since the Dominion patch there has been a bottleneck mineral: Technetium. It's quite simply used in too many blueprints for its availability and relative to its limited availability. Technetium moons (or tech moons) spawn only in the North West corner of the nullsec map with some few in neighbouring low sec areas. Most of this area is now owned by the Goon-dominated Clusterfuck coalition.
And today their leader, The Mittani, announced a Technetium Cartel.
Is this real or is this a troll?
I've been debating this very matter for the last few days on the Eve O market forums with some of the resident Goons. I argued there was a cartel but that they were forcing prices high and that the universe was over-stocked with Tech. I now think I was wrong. There is a cartel but they've been expanding into a shrinking supply.
Market luminary Akita T, generally regarded as one of the best player analysts on the forum, had this to say:
Nomad I: This is shocking [:o] But what is the reason?
Akita T: The Dominion expansion, winter of 2009.
It took this long to burn through the vast majority of old stockpiles.
Note that this still could be wrong and perhaps there are more stocks than he realises. However he did the original analysis when the Dominion patch came out that first caused Tech to start spiking almost three years ago in a post called Technetium: The sky's the limit.
It also means that the Goons who have been trolling the forum saying that Tech is on its way up were right all along. As Moorcock once wrote the truth can be the subtlest lie of all.
So what does this mean for Eve players:
Most but not all Tech 2 ships and modules are going to get more expensive. For example the Tech 2 ammo I make contains Fullerides which are made of Technetium. This of course is in the context of and to some extent masked by the general inflation that is part of Escalation to Inferno.
If you have liquid isk then Technetium and the various refined products it makes should be solid short term investments. You can probably spend 1b now and cash out for 1.25b next week.
If you manufacture T2 material you should stock up today.
We've found out something very interesting about stockpiles in Eve. That this one mineral was overstocked enough in 2009 that the stockpiles have taken three years to run out. This is a caution for people gambling on the minerals market at the moment. Just because less Morphite is being produced doesn't mean the market will be short of Morphite any time soon as long as speculators feel it's worth their while selling.
Note at some point Tech will be nerfed as it's too strong at the moment but the Goons have a lot of influence on Eve policy-making so it may take some while.