Public policies have become embedded with market-based mechanisms to radically transform essential goods and services markets. This article proposes a framework for empirical analysis of these markets. Key theoretical propositions are distilled to 12 distinctive properties of markets. These properties foreshadow a set of questions to interrogate a market's structure, operation, participants, behaviors, rules, and price setting to generate a substantive, realistic picture of outcomes. This “analytical grid” of questions is applied to four Australian essential goods and services markets. The findings unequivocally demonstrate a very different picture of markets from that promulgated by mainstream neoclassical economics and public policies.