The Escapist has a good article discussing the secondary market of various MMOs. It doesn't focus on World of Warcraft, but gives an interesting broader picture on the practice of buying and selling currency in virtual worlds. The question of whether players can remain competitive at this point without the aid of additional financial is a curious one. In Azeroth, additional gold, BOE items, or power-leveling can certainly be of help, but are they necessary to keep up with the rest of the players? For PvP, I'm tempted to answer "yes" - as the bar to reach the upper ranks of the honor system is so high as to make it neigh impossible for many players to reach - unless they do nothing but take short breaks for sleeping and eating between play sessions for weeks on end.