The economy of Essex was based around a barter system, but on June 1st 2010 converted to the New Pound (N£). The New Pound was adopted because of long-standing misgivings around the stability of a bartering economy. This was due to the dangerous increase in wealth and buying power of the more productive communes and the fact that the food-based barter system was especially vulnerable to bad harvests, and represented little chance for investment in the future.
The adoption of the New Pound was not met with universal agreement. The ceremony involved the Woodbridge ambassador to Essex buy an item worth N£10, and the Essex ambassador in Woodbridge do the same. Unfortunately, problems came at both ends; in Woodbridge, the shopkeeper did not have the exact change, and in Essex, Woodbridge's ambassador was met with heckling from protestors who believed that the adoption of the New Pound was another step in Woodbridge's 'domination' of Essex. The hecklers were arrested though soon released. The event appears to have already become a local legend, having received coverage in the evening news of Essex, Woodbridge, and even the Celtic Alliance. New Pounds minted in Essex or Woodbridge have separate designs but are legal tender in both countries.
Most goods in Essex are handmade, typically from readily available substances such as wood, metal and the casings of otherwise useless objects. Working pre-Doomsday objects of practical value are extremely expensive and commonly-sought after, with agricultural equipment some of the most costly tools in the entire country. For this reason the government has endeavoured to purchase most available farming equipment, loaning and subsidizing it to needy communes. Communes without ownership or access to combine harvesters or tractors generally make do with extensively modified cars and trucks, horse-driven machinery, or raw manpower. Technicians with the skills to modify cars and the breeders of horses, donkeys and mules are generally members of the richer community in Essex.
Nonetheless, there is an extensive market for goods of less practical value. Antiques and memorabilia can fetch considerable sums, and independently produced artwork can often make artists some of the richest people in the nation overnight – paintings, incredibly scarce due to the lack of usable paint, regularly fetch the worth of a healthy horse from rich communes. Items which have been salvaged also draw value due to the merit of their origin, such as the 'Sheerness piano', which was retrieved by the navy on one of its missions to the town and sold on, drawing huge value as being the only piano found outside Essex (despite being hopelessly out of tune).
Essex has a somewhat limited economic base for foreign trade, as the vast majority of its produce is either food or low- to mid-quality agricultural equipment. Nonetheless there are some parts of its economy that are useful for foreign trade:
Bee handling equipment
Small-scale wind turbines
Small-scale hydroelectric generators
Farm machinery (though mostly of a late 19th-century standard)
Biodiesel (though Essex is a net importer of the product)