I constantly see questions about the economy. So let me share my knowledge here. This is as of 22.214.171.124. Be aware that I will be making some mistakes since this is based on my observations, some things are known for certain only by the developers; alright, disclaimer aside, let us begin:
The upper right cash indicates your current cash level and changes in it over time, the value increase or decrease is based on recent additions or subtractions. Buying stuff subtracts from it, getting gifts or money from scrapping ships increases it, as well as income from resorts and commissions for each private sector ship built in your spaceports; getting tax income (the value shown in the empire report) also increases said value (or decreases if it loses money). Thus it does not match the value in the empire report which shows your more "static" and "predictable" income and expenses, it is possible for you to be "losing money" in the empire report yet make money overall thanks to sufficiently large transient income.
The value in the upper right screen is thus highly misleading, but can be useful at times, as it is not an indication of what is going to happen, but what happened in the past (a large recent gift can show a positive change even though you are actively losing money!)... it is a speedometer if you will, and it is as accurate as the windows file copy "time remaining" estimate.
That is, assuming it isn't broken or bugged or that I have made a mistake on its workings...
The money in the empire report is mostly self explanatory; you just need to realize that the state is your money, and the private sector is a singular entity that has a giant pool of cash (for abstraction), individual structures, ships, etc do not have their own cash... every single private sector thing generates expenses and often provides a service (for "free") but only planets generate private sector income... planets each generate money for private sector via population * development * a constant * a number less than 1 for corruption reduction. all the income of all planets put together is totaled as "private sector income".
then deductions occur, all the upkeep and fuel costs of all the ships and bases in the private sector (freighters, passenger ships, mining ships, mining stations, gas mining ships, and gas mining stations) are subtracted from the private sector income.
Taxes are subtracted from private sector income (and added to state income)...
If the income is positive the private sector accumulates cash, if it is negative it loses cash, if it is negative and at 0 cash the state loses extra money.
When new ships are commissioned by the private sector it loses the money for said ships, part (or all?) of which goes to the state for building said ships (included in main window income but not in empire window income since its transient income). The price of any ship, private or public, is determined by the price of the materials to produce them, which is determined by availability and galactic stock. there is a base price value, at great shortages it increases to ridiculous values (hydrogen normally costs 1 credit a unit, can go up to 40 credits a unit at great shortage), but normally and even at mild shortage it stays in the preset value. The ships commissioned by the private sector and retrofit costs do not show up in private sector income report, instead they are just deduced from their total cash. Likewise, your cut for building it in your spaceports is just added and shows up on main window, but not in empire report.
Mines of all kinds produce resources, the resources are moved for free to all places. When you or the private sector commission a ship resources are bought to build said ship, i have no idea if said money is destroyed or delivered to the private sector (remember, the private sector is abstracted as a singular entity, there is no individual wealth for each mine or ship or station).
I will not go into detail about the private sector.
- Freighters each generate a constant upkeep that is tallied up in the empire report as a "Ship/Base upkeep cost"
- Freighters each generate a variable cost of "fuel", it shows up in the empire window despite being a transient cost. Fuel costs can go up a LOT due to shortages (hydrogen is the basic fuel, followed by calson... hydrogen will go up from 1 credit to 40 credits in price due to great shortages, which often occur in late game for a variety of reasons I will get into later).
- Freighters provide the service of shuttling goods from point A to point B, this is done "for free". It is absolutely VITAL to your economy, as a steady supply of luxury resources is required for planets to make money.
- About 10 freighters will be build per colonized planet/moon.
- Each freighter has an upfront purchase cost, that is deducted from the private sector cash and does NOT show up anywhere. A part or all of that cost goes to the empire who owns the spaceport it is built in, generally they build in your own planets (make sure you have enough space ports!)
- Each freighter has an occasional retrofit cost when it gets upgraded (retrofit cost is simply the cost of all new components it gets... so if you only changed out 1 component, it will be very cheap and fast to retrofit). This is also not displayed on the empire reports page.
- Sometimes a really old freighter will be retired instead of retrofitted, a portion of its money will go back into the private sector cash. This is also not displayed on the empire reports page.
- DOES NOT produce income!
2. Passenger ships:
- Pretty much the same as freighters except where noted
- I am not quite sure how many are generated... IIRC between 0.5 to 2 per planet. I think it might be population related rather then planet related.
- Provide the service of moving people from planet to planet as emigration (not useful), also provide the service of moving people to resort bases, useful as resort bases generate income.
- DOES NOT produce income!
3. Mining ships, Gas mining ships:
- Each generate a constant upkeep that is tallied up in the empire report as a "Ship/Base upkeep cost"
- Each generate a variable cost of "fuel", it shows up in the empire window despite being a transient cost.
- Provide the service of creating resources on planets, moons, asteroids, etc. Then delivers them to a nearby starport. Does NOT charge any money for the resources it creates / delivers.
- I notice very few of those built (or at least survive).
- Each has an upfront purchase cost, that is deducted from the private sector cash and does NOT show up anywhere. A part or all of that cost goes to the empire who owns the spaceport it is built in, generally they build in your own planets (make sure you have enough space ports!)
- Each has an occasional retrofit cost when it gets upgraded (retrofit cost is simply the cost of all new components it gets... so if you only changed out 1 component, it will be very cheap and fast to retrofit). This is also not displayed on the empire reports page.
- Sometimes a really old miners will be retired instead of retrofitted, a portion of its money will go back into the private sector cash. This is also not displayed on the empire reports page.
- DOES NOT produce income!
4. Mining stations, gas mining stations.
- Same as Mining ships and gas mining ships, except:
- generally no fuel costs due to collectors, however they might still consume fuel (especially if using their weapons).
- way too few built by AI, you need to build a lot of them yourself.
- DOES NOT produce income!
5. Planets - owned by state, not private sector.
- Generate resources as if they have a mining station on them.
- Generate money for private sector as GDP, GDP based on culture level (sometimes called development, but development is also used elsewhere to mean something else) and population. Pop * Culture * Corruption * Constant * Empire modifiers = GDP. Note that 50% of culture is based on population in later patches of the game. But you still need a good amount of luxury resources (which are consumed over time to generate culture, the more different types, the more culture you get).
- Loses money for private sector as taxes, the higher the taxes, the more money it loses the private sector.
- Gains money for state as taxes (equal to the value it loses the private sector), this is a huge source of income for the state.
6. Resort bases - owned by state, not private sector:
- Generates constant upkeep cost that shows up in empire status window as part of "ship/base upkeep costs"
- Costs an upfront cost to build, which does not show up there (but will affect main window display)
- Costs an occasional retrofit cost when you decide you want it retrofitted, same display properties as the upfront cost.
- Generally does not consume fuel thanks to collectors, but can consume it on occasion and have it show up in empire status.
- Generates income for the state based on location bonus * people visiting (location bonus can be 0 which means you can build non profitable resort bases!). This income shows up as "resort income" in your state ledger; it is somewhat inconsistent.
The best way to make more money for the private sector (and it if wasn't for the ability to sell tech to the AI for millions it would have been the best way to make money for state too) is to increase colony development, 50% of which comes from population and the rest from access to luxury goods (which are consumed over time). So colonize planets with luxury goods first to ensure you have money, later though you WILL need to acquire strategic resources or your construction of ships will STALL and be "stuck" until you DO get enough of said resources.
The more variety of luxury goods you have the better. (and rarer resources are also better... with the super rarest being korbebian spice, zentebia fluid, and loros fruit... those give massive bonuses to your culture and economy and wealth... go after those with a vengeance!)
You can make ridiculous amounts of money for the state by selling tech to AI, but ideally you want to have a flourishing economy so you can hoard your tech and still make money (but don't be afraid from selling tech, especially in the EARLY game)...
You need a profitable private sector first and foremost... then, you need good morale to afford high taxes which are the main source of your income:
- war weariness reduces morale
- "development" (amount and SIZE of structures built on a planet) increases morale (this has nothing to do with culture, which is also called development!
- "at war with their race" reduces morale a whole lot. (aka, if you are at war with the securian empire, all securians on your empire get a huge morale penalty)
- Bad reputation reduces morale
- Good reputation increases morale
- Certain races are resistant or even immune to the penalties from bad reputation.
- More free governments increase the penalty of war weariness while providing a static bonus (but not enough to eclipse the penalty if at war) to morale. Less free governments reduce the penalties for war weariness, but you do not get the constant bonuses (which would have benefited you at peace time)... so choose wisely. It is entirely possible to wage war as a democracy though, just keep it to short decisive wars since war weariness starts at 0 and goes up over time as long as you are at war... making peace sets it back to zero.
You will also make a good solid income from the building of private ships IF you have enough spaceport to go around (recall, you get a commission for every private sector ship built in your spaceports). If you don't build enough spaceports then you would not be able to produce enough private sector ships. Without enough freighters the planets will not get enough luxury goods and that is a big problem.
The game builds about 10 freighters per colonize planet (of various sizes, mostly small)... so a 700 planet empire would have 7000 freighters (yes, that is how many freighters I have; actually I had much more than that since I got to much higher then 500 planets... but due to ram limits and CPU limits and excessive load times I play on 250 star galaxies which seem to have only 700 colonizable planets/moons; 1.05 should greatly reduce load / save times so I would play larger galaxies then... I suggest you limit yourself to 250 star galaxies).
A good way to reduce corruption is to move your capital to a planet in the middle of your empire, since distance from capital causes increased corruption.
Ships cost is determined by the resources used to construct each individual component in the ship... costs are additive... ship maintenance is a fraction of ship cost, further reduced by the level of your command center (the higher its level, the lower its cost to maintain).
Loading up your private sector ships with inefficient junk makes them more costly and causes it to lose money... you can load up mining bases and gas mining stations with tons of weapons and the like and it could bankrupt the private sector, so handle with care.
due to a variety of arguments and back and forth from users a cap of 1 weapon per private ship (freighter, passenger ship, or mining ships) has been implemented... also, the default freighters come with 1 laser... 1 laser is useless... on occasion i found some use to putting 1 torpedo on them but generally i prefer to remove it to save money to the private sector.. I also strip them of armor and have them carry only 1 shield...
I found taking off all shields is a problem due to seller storms... which would then damage them as they travel through MASSIVE areas of space (stellar storms extend into hyperspace), the solution is to have one shield on to protect against that.
One of the advantage of having an SSP (or larger) on every planet is:
1. increased morale for having space structures around the planet (it is called development in morale breakdown but it is different then the development level brought by population and luxury items... the latter is sometimes referred to as culture and shows up as a musical sign when looking at a planet readout).
2. increased morale for having medical facilities
3. increased morale for having recreation centers
4. increased construction capacity allows your empire to better maintain fleets of 10 freighters per colonized planet (I think passenger ships are between 0.5 and 2 per planet... not quite sure how that goes, haven't paid them enough attention). This is important to ensure all planets get a steady supply of a WIDE VARIETY of luxury goods (high culture levels require a variety of luxury goods, I think it tops at 10 different kinds of luxury goods).
5. more docking space... default is 2 per planet, 2 per SSP, 4 per MSP, and 8 for LSP. so a planet with an LSP has a total of 10 docking points (most ships will only dock with the space port, some will only dock with the planet itself)
6. protection against enemies.
All that being said, spaceports are expensive, while a fully developed planet can support one, if you expand rapidly and build an SSP on each planet you will go bankrupt, so at least early on you must pick and choose where do build them.
Planets which have super rare resources (such as loros fruit, korbebian spice and zentebia fluid) NEED a large spaceport or you will have traffic jams. and you will lose tons of potential money because your other planets are not getting said super resources in a prompt manner!
I also put an extreme long range scanner on each SSP, they are not there by default, and they are somewhat costly, but its worth it to actually have a detection range and see enemy fleets and where they are going (you will see a red arrow from enemy fleet to its target system).
Great effort m8.
But honestly, all that, just to be able to keep the economy in the green during a normal game session. Sigh.
There is an easier way of putting it, the economy is unbalanced / bugged (depending on your preference)