Yes. The cost inflation of “luxury” items does indeed incentivize behaviors that then directly lead to inflation.
However, it’s more than that. Speculators can and do cause prices of goods being speculated on to increase due to the artificial demand created by those same speculators. The greater the wealth accumulation by the wealthiest players, the greater those players have the ability to manipulate the prices on the TP.
There have been numerous examples of real world markets that have been manipulated by speculators to levels that have nothing to do with consumer demand and consumers end up paying more for those commodities than they would if there were no speculators manipulating the markets.
As I stated previously, it’s worse here because there are no real world pressures to keep prices in check. Ordinary players can either grin and bear it, become speculators themselves, buy gold or quit the game. None of that effects the speculators and manipulators and even if things should reach a critical mass due to a player exodus from the game, causing the in game markets to collapse, they don’t lose anything other than imaginary money.
Inflation in this game is not because ordinary players are earning too much money. The same can be said about the US economy. Lower and middle income earners have seen wage stagnation or deflation over the past decade or more, yet real inflation has been increasing steadily. Ordinary Americans are not driving inflation, they are just getting by with less and less for every hour worked.
The same thing is happening in GW2.
When players that play actual game content see their earning rate remain stagnant, while the price of goods increases rapidly on the TP, then there is something wrong with the economy. When players feel they either need to play the market for profit or buy gold just to afford to play the game, there is something wrong with the economy.
The 15% “tax” on TP sales and the listing fee are gold sinks, but it’s still a much lower “tax” than in game gold sinks impose on players who actually play game content to earn currency. Not only can you earn a lot more money per hour playing the TP than playing game content, but you get to keep a much higher percentage of your earnings.
Scarcity just increases inflation. It isn’t a hedge against inflation. It also creates the environment for speculators and manipulators to earn the currency needed to truly demolish the economy.
Tightening supply of costly goods just rewards speculators, while making life more difficult for people just trying to play the game.
Centrally managed economies have no place in the real world, but if you are going to have a full time economist running your in game economy, that’s exactly what you would want. Tuning of supply, (and money sinks), to ensure that prices remain in a narrow range and limiting the opportunities for speculators and manipulators to push inflation.
I can see the value of a game that is an economic simulator, but that is not this game and the current economics of GW2 seem destined to eventually ruin the play experience of many players, seemingly just to preserve the right of the few to enjoy the role of market profiteers.