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Are there an economists out there?

Ross at Play

I have an idea for a sci-fi story where a galaxy-wide conflict is complicated by one side having a severe economic recession. I have some knowledge of macroeconomics, but I've never studied it. I'd greatly appreciate it if anyone is available as an information resource for such things. If so, would you send me an email via my author listing.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I have an idea for a sci-fi story where a galaxy-wide conflict is complicated by one side having a severe economic recession. I have some knowledge of macroeconomics, but I've never studied it. I'd greatly appreciate it if anyone is available as an information resource for such things. If so, would you send me an email via my author listing.

I actually studied economic theory is college (part of a dual-major) but never used it much is RL (aside from recognizing when someone was talking nonsense). Seeing as I'm describing a similar sci-fi world in my newest story, we could potentially compare notes. (Just as a side observation, you don't want to load your story down with economic theory and buzzwords. Simply listing what's wrong with the economy (no opportunity, few available jobs, no creative thought, etc.) works better than inundating them with theory.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I actually studied economic theory is college

Thank you. I'll get some ideas down before bothering you.

you don't want to load your story down with economic theory

I don't want to "load (it) down", but I'll see what's needed. What I have in mind would be more about political decisions than economics, with a basic question something like: would the central government of the United Federation of Planets have allowed Lehman Brothers to fail if war with the Romulans seemed imminent?

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

My undergraduate is a B.S. in Business Management and I have an MBA, but I wouldn't be much of a resource on economics.

You will need to establish what type of economy they have. For example, it would be different between Capitalism and Communism.

Ross at Play
Updated:


You will need to establish what type of economy they have. For example, it would be different between Capitalism and Communism.


Definitely capitalist with a democratic unlike those we're accustomed to, i.e. it would not be of the people, by some people, for 1% of the people.

Replies:   Jim S
Jim S

@Ross at Play

Definitely capitalist with a democratic unlike those we're accustomed to, i.e. it would not be of the people, by some people, for 1% of the people.


The cynic in me wants to say to take the U.S. as a model. Or Stalin's Russia for that matter. But I won't. :) Say it, that is.

Not_a_ID

@Ross at Play

United Federation of Planets have allowed Lehman Brothers to fail if war with the Romulans seemed imminent?


In Star Trek's Federation, Lehman Brothers simply wouldn't exist, at least by TNG standards(Where they established bankers don't exist anymore). DS9 might be a slightly more complicated answer, as it established that a fair bit of other economic activity (with currency even) was going on, even with replicators and abundant energy at hand.

An energy rich society like the Federation, particularly once in possession of replicators, exists in an entirely different economic strata than anything we can compare to today. Other than the obvious of plentiful energy = low to no scarcity. Scarcity of energy = potential for scarcity of goods (and operations reverting back to something more comparable to our own systems... Only having to adjust for competition from places where the "opportunity cost" of making a Twin Size bed and assorted bedding isn't appreciably different from a "California King" sized bed.)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

The key is, politicians, of any stripe, rarely comprehend economics, and even if they did, wouldn't let it change their initial inclinations much. Legislatures continue to champion tax cuts for the rich, based on 'trickle-down economics'. But that entire concept is flatly rejected by economists. It's based entirely on one man's economic theory, and his single research paper on it is based on highly questionable standards. However, while he stands alone in defending it, he's incredibly enthusiastic about, and thus has won over a bunch of supporters who simply can't grasp why it doesn't hold up (despite the fact it's NEVER worked).

That's why, unless you're Ann Rand, it's best to leave economics out of fictional stories. If you're going to base the story on a futuristic Lehman Brothers equivalent, then base it on corruption, kickbacks and financial support, rather than on dry economic theory no one comprehends.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Not_a_ID

In Star Trek's Federation, Lehman Brothers simply wouldn't exist

Thanks, but I'm not planning anything actually based on Star Trek. I just used that in an attempt to describe the kind of setting I want. One where humans occupy an entire galaxy which is governed by two antagonistic power blocks.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

That's why, unless you're Ann Rand, it's best to leave economics out of fictional stories.

Why? My impression she is one of the most loved and most hated authors there is. I'd be thrilled if I could provoke reactions anything like that.
I haven't read her myself; those I've seen who say they love her work are mostly on my list of the people I hate the most.

I'm thinking of a story where a group of people must make a very difficult decision:
* If we do this there is certain to be economic chaos across our society, and we don't want that when we may be facing a war against our enemy.
* If we don't, we risk creating incentives which might destroy our society over the long term.

Isn't good fiction always based on the dilemmas and decisions people face when thrown into difficult situations - allowing readers to imagine what they would do in the same situation?
My story would be about dilemmas and decisions that not all readers could relate to. So what? Isn't that what story descriptions are for - to warn readers a story is something they are certain to hate? Hopefully a few will think, "That could be very interesting."

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
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@Ross at Play

Hopefully a few will think, "That could be very interesting."

You could add some cheerleaders to your story and make it a certainty.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

You could add some cheerleaders to your story and make it certainty.

I'm assuming you omitted the smiley face because you refuse to use them. Fair enough.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I'll make an exception just for you. ;)

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Oh no, not another abstruse metaphor for the conflict between Republicans and Democrats in modern-day America. ;)

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

One where humans occupy an entire galaxy which is governed by two antagonistic power blocks.


That doesn't describe Star Trek at all...

Replies:   Not_a_ID  Ross at Play
Not_a_ID

@Geek of Ages

That doesn't describe Star Trek at all..


It might describe Star Wars though.

The United Federation of Planets didn't even claim control of an entire quandrant(1/4th) of the galaxy, although it's supposed to be mostly "Alpha Quadrant" based (With Earth evidently bisecting the Alpha/Beta line much like the Greenwich Royal Observatory does the Prime Meridian) while the Klingons and Romulans are mostly "Beta Quadrant." With the various other races and civilizations scattered about from there.

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

That doesn't describe Star Trek at all...

I'm not enough of a fan to know.
When I mentioned something from Star Trek I introduced it with the words 'a basic question something like: ...'

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Oh no, not another abstruse metaphor for the conflict between Republicans and Democrats in modern-day America.

Nope. It would not be even abstrusely about the Punches and Judys Show.
The metaphor would be what if the decision on whether to allow Lehman Brothers to go into bankruptcy had to be made by a Westminster-style Cabinet instead of an unelected Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke.

sejintenej

You refer to "economic chaos" which is a hazy term of the type used by politicians and journalists with a bone to pick but in themselves mean very little.
"Severe economic recession" is a mathematical definition - economic output has declined "severely" over an agreed period length compared to previous periods. That economic output fall can be in a few less important sectors or across the board - the term does not clarify which.

Lehman Bros were lending at stupid rates for stupid periods and did not have their funding to match. The question has to be whether your ficticious government would allow such a mismatch in the first place.

The galaxy-wide conflict is a very different affair. OK so recession has caused a decline in the production of bath salts but are the armaments manufacturers able to get raw materials, skilled labour, power and transport / communications etc. sufficient to supply the armaments?

How is the government going to pay armaments suppliers, armed forces, suppliers of energy (be it petrochemicals or hydrogen and oxygen)? Could money be raised by compulsory purchase of War Bonds as in Britain during 1939-1945?

What is the level of public support for the government's stance on the conflict. Public support gives the government wider possibilities than if the public is against the government's stance. Can the government force the populace to tow the line a-la-Stalin?

To save or not to save Lehman?
If the government decides to save then it has to step into the shoes of existing lenders which leaves it open to very great extra expense (increased interest costs in borrowing from those who previously lent to Lehman, all sorts of unexpected stuff coming out of the woodwork, more employees to sort it out....)

If the government decides not to save then some but not all of the lenders to Lehman will be in trouble and the government may have to prop them up but the amount will be considerably less. What will the other effects be? (In Lehman's case property prices plummeted and mortgages were unpaid leading to a huge glut of houses for sale at fire sale prices)

There are other options - those adopted during the Secondary Banking Crisis in ?the late 1970's when the public never knew that 25 banks collapsed on the same weekend but nobody lost a sou/cent/penny. Those adopted by the Bundesbank following the collapse of Herstatt and which are still top secret.

Like others who replied I had to do economics for my professional exams but I never really understood it all. OTOH I was on the white side of an unfair number of company and bank failures :-(

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@sejintenej

The galaxy-wide conflict is a very different affair. OK so recession has caused a decline in the production of bath salts but are the armaments manufacturers able to get raw materials, skilled labour, power and transport / communications etc. sufficient to supply the armaments?

As I understand it, war is the only known sure-fire cure for a severe recession.
Thanks for your comments.
I'm wishing I never mentioned Lehmam Brothers. I did so only because I'm considering a story where a government is faced with a situation that has similar pros and cons.

Ernest Bywater

The real answer to the question in the thread title is a very resounding No! There aren't any! However, there's a lot of theorists who push economic theory, and many of them work in the field, but none of them have ever done anything worthwhile and none have proven any theory works other than the basic - "Me want knife, me swap three furs for knife, Og."

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Switch Blayde
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@Ross at Play


a galaxy-wide conflict is complicated by one side having a severe economic recession.


The crux to it could be a natural resource. Like our economies are dependent on oil, you could invent some mineral that is instrumental to their industries and therefore economies.

Maybe one nation could run out of the resource which would send it into a recession. So they might invade the other nation to get the resource. Or maybe both nations were mining the resource on a third planet and one nation stops the other from doing so.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

The crux to it could be a natural resource. Like our economies are dependent on oil, you could invent some mineral that is instrumental to their industries and therefore economies.


Better than something instrumental to their industries would be something instrumental to FTL travel and thus to the existence of inter stellar economics.

Either equivalent to oil, fuel for FTL drive power cores or some metal or other mineral necessary to the construction of FTL drives.

awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

I regard Economics as an art, not a science, except when it's a diaphanous excuse to give a Nobel Prize to a mathematician.

Ask five different 'expert' economists a question about the economy and you'll get at least ten different answers :(

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Your thinly veiled taunts will not provoke me. :-)

Not_a_ID

@awnlee jawking

MacroEconomics is a very screwey field, and for fiction, in particular Galaxy scale fiction, is probably best left as footnote material that might get the odd aside, but not much more.

It is kind of in the same category as toilets on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. We know they're there, at least in theory, but that doesn't mean we're going to need a description of how the ship handles the excrement that the crew produces. (Aside from knowing it ultimately becomes raw material for the replicators to make use of--Yum!)

Replies:   Joe Long
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

Ask five different 'expert' economists a question about the economy and you'll get at least ten different answers :(


I thought they usually came up with three answers per question each. Economics isn't even a good art form, it's a poor My Guess is business.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID
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@Ernest Bywater


Economics isn't even a good art form, it's a poor My Guess is business.


MicroEconomics is actually fairly solid. It is when you start trying to extrapolate things into increasingly higher levels that things go wild. As it attempts to rationalize the behavior of irrational beings, and that's only going to get you so far.

That isn't even before getting into the obscure relationships that exist between seemingly "unrelated markets" be that geographical or technological in nature. Which are very hard to model for if you do not know about it. That is the major contributor to many "perverse incentives" that sometimes get created unintentionally. Such as an initiative to incentivize the use of biofuels which was almost immediately expended before it started because the people who wrote the law were oblivious to practices already in place in lumber and paper mills.... Which qualified for that program. So that particular biofuel initiative instead simply became a huge subsidy for large lumber and paper mills. (Who didn't actually change anything)

Joe Long

@Not_a_ID

It is kind of in the same category as toilets on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. We know they're there, at least in theory,


Ron Moore fixed that, among other things, on his reimagined Battlestar Galactica, where the coed heads were frequently shown in use.

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