This article from the Ivey Business Review on the RMAH is really good. Can't wiat for part II.

During Diablo II’s “boom years” of the mid-2000s, a small, dedicated set of gamers sought to capitalize on the game’s mounting interest and rapidly expanding economy by selling items for real world dollars through eBay. Many made good money doing so. While hardcore gamers loved it, average players hated it – feeling that it imperilled Diablo’s intrinsically meritocratic form of wealth distribution – yet both sides agreed that the situation was unsustainable. Items were frequently stolen, accounts were mistakenly deleted by Blizzard and finally, after eBay’s banning of the sale of virtual goods in 2007 pushed the sale of Diablo II items completely under the table, it was clear that some type of compromise was necessary. And thus, the real money auction house was born.
From the very outset the game’s economy has lurched from one crisis to the next. In recent months, as Peter Earle of the Ludwig von Mises institute notes in incredible detail, hyperinflation has come to dominate the economy and effectively ground trade to a halt. A recent hack, that allowed users of auction house to essentially double their cash, has only made the situation worse. Blizzard temporarily shut down the auction house and punished those who abused the system, but by that point the damage was already done as trillions in new dollars flooded the economy, the USD exchange rate plummeted and commentators and players were left uncertain about Diablo’s future.

What Blizzard’s new system failed to recognize is that while the old economy was in many ways inefficient, it was these frictions that acted as stabilizers and helped it find an appropriate equilibrium. In the case of gold, there are still few in game uses, or “gold sinks”, to remove some from the aggregate money supply. This is in direct contrast to Diablo II, where, for example, the long-time preferred currency, the Stones of Jordan, were one of the best items in the game and extremely useful in multiple quests that were non-transactional. The effect was akin to an aggressive bond selling program by a central bank – by removing currency from circulation, these in game uses kept inflation low and maintained the currency’s value.
Speaking of the RMAH, please take a moment to vote in the poll I created on the subject.
/end shameless self promotion