There was some game mentioned on Blues earlier in the week that was going for Permadeath. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Death of a character can often lead to cancellation of an account. For instance losing your body in Everquest can mean months of work down the drain. OTOH it would make for an incredibly engaging game. Actual death, as opposed to incapacitation would have to be pretty hard, eg in SWG something may knock you out then wander off and leave you to recuperate. Something else may finish you off.
If everyone starts with 1000 gold, and we're basing the economy on real dollars/euros then that money entering the economy has to be accounted for by part of your initial payment. ie it can't just appear out of nowhere. Ideally we want an exchange rate - game dollar against real dollar that favours the game devs slightly but not massively. ie if you make 1000 gold, you cn exchange that for $4.00. If you want to buy 1000 gold, it'll cost you $5.00. Nothing can drop gold, but you'll also earn a small amount of gold each month - based on your subscription payment. This would do away with ebay and give devs a direct cut of the action. If someone has a cool sword for sale at 10000 gold, you agree to buy it, either from your own reserves or you fork over fifty bucks to get it. The seller then takes that gold and cashs it in for 40 bucks. Game makes 10 bucks and the players have a secure and easy transaction. So long as nothing drops gold and gold can only be gained from other players the economy will mirror the real world economy. You don't need ebay.