Arkhaun is the home of a number of races. The planet is not strongly unified under a single government, but there are roughly one hundred countries that claim sovereignty over some territory. Almost every country is a signatory to an alliance that binds them together in a unique way; a network of supercomputers advises the planetary economy.
Called the Economind by Arkhaunians, this network tracks an astonishing number of variables: the wage paid every registered worker, the amount of raw materials collected in every commodity type, the number of finished goods produced, etc. Every object that is fabricated by companies in member countries is tracked via its own serial number. This information comes from real-time reports required by law.
Being able to track every object in the economy means that if you access the Economind Materials Tracking Database, and punch in a serial number for your personal computer, the database will return every diode, every chip, and every wire in the machine, and where it was manufactured, on what date, by whom.
Such monumental tracking means that the Economind has calculated the best prices for every commodity and item, as it knows them all. It knows how much you should pay your workers. It knows how every market moves. This has created prosperity for Arkhaunian countries. Due to complex archival data analysis, exception tracking, and statistical trending, the Economind can predict future economic indicators. Therefore it is almost impossible to manipulate the Economind, and attempts to do so are severely punished. A government who engages in this activity is considered to have committed an act of war.
However, one Arkaunian country refuses to report information to the Economind, or join the planetary alliance: The Democratic People's Republic of Mernia, colloquially referred to as North Mernia, after the Mernian war partitioned the country. This country is in relative isolation to the others, but is in the unique position of being able to introduce untracked goods to the Arkhaunian economy. Note that buying untracked goods is a major crime in every other Arkhaunian country (although it is rumored that some governments do exactly that, to have untracked weapons available).