Invitation from NSFM supporter, Professor Michael Mainelli

Z/Yen Group is embarking on an innovative and ambitious research project on ‘capacity exchanges’ commissioned by the City of London Corporation, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Recipco Holdings.
While there is as yet no agreed definition of ‘capacity exchanges’ they are envisaged by certain proponents as a sophisticated form of barter or business to business trade whereby a company’s excess capacity (e.g. printing capacity, airline seats, electricity, bandwidth) can be traded for other goods and services to create liquidity in a credit constrained environment or improve efficiency of supply chain procurement processes. While countertrade and bilateral barter are well-known to take place in various ways across the global economy (estimates vary as to what proportion of global trade such deals account for), of particular interest to this project is the potential to develop a multilateral capacity exchange, or cluster of exchanges.
This research project therefore aims to assess the operational potential for, and the requirements of, multilateral capacity exchanges (MCEs) based in London. The project team will also estimate the potential economic, environmental and social benefits that might accrue to London and the UK from such business-to-business exchange platforms. The project aims to report in October 2011.
As part of this research project, we would like to give the opportunity to members of the NSFM community to share their:
  • understanding and assessment, if any, of excess capacity (at country or industry level);
  • views on ‘capacity exchanges’ – the concept; appetite for such platforms; possible obstacles; possible benefits;
  • thoughts on the possible economic, social and environmental benefits accruing directly and indirectly from the use and the existence of such capacity exchanges.
Should you or a colleague be interested in getting involved in this research project through interviews or by sharing some thoughts, please contact Chiara von Gunten (