Economics of Westeros II

Part 2: Proposals to the Crown

By K.w. Dent

In part 1 of this essay series, I used Keynesian economics to define the major economic problems facing Westeros. The major issues characterized in part 1 were the lack of a central liquidity vendor, major debts, ineffective demand cycles, inefficient population distribution, and instability in the Riverlands. In part 2, I will make proposals to address these problems. 

 I will suggest the effects of these proposals to the Westerosi economy through the methodology of the 3 equations model, which is a modern expansion on Keynesian thinking that will more accurately reflect why and how these proposals will be beneficial to the Westerosi economy. So, what is the 3-equations model?

The 3-Equations Model

The 3-equations model is an increasingly popular take on new-age Keynesian Macroeconomics that combines an IS-LM Curve, a Phillips curve, and an interest rate based monetary policy rule

In brevity, it represents the relationship between national savings, investments, demand for loans, available money, inflation, and interest rates.

The IS-LM model is a tool which shows the relationship between available “investments and savings” (IS) and “liquidity preference and money supply” (LM). As can be seen on the below graph, the downward sloping IS curve represents the points at each and every equilibria where available investments meet available savings.

ISLM Curve (Figure 3)

The LM Function represents liquidity preference (or, demand of money) and money supply at all equilibriums. 

Combining the IS curve and the LM curve gives us the equilibrium for available funds to be lent at specific interest rate points relative to any output level. For Westeros, defining a method to create a market for available investment will be pivotal to creating economic growth into the future. 

The Phillips Curve is a model that was developed by William Phillips which describes an inverse relationship between rates of unemployment and corresponding rates of rises in wages that result within a given economy. 

Samuelson and Solow later used the Phillips Curve to define a connection between increased employment rates with increased short-run inflation. This connection was later corroborated by famous economist Milton Friedman. In short, when inflation is high, unemployment is low and vice versa. You can see the curve for this below. For Westeros, this relationship will be important as we attempt employing a higher percentage of available labor. 

Phillips Curve (Figure 4)

For the monetary policy rule, the central bank (more on that later) will choose a desired output and inflation level. Many of the proposals in this essay will be centered around employing a higher level of the labor force, which will result in natural inflation per the Phillips Curve. It is important that our growth takes place over a proper period of time as to avoid runaway inflation. 

Monetary Policy Rule (Figure 5)

 

Now that we’ve laid down the groundwork for the methodology, let’s move onto the actual proposals.

The Central Bank of Westeros

“We need our own bank, Cersei decided, the Golden Bank of Lannisport. Perhaps when Tommen’s throne was secure, she could make that happen” (Cersei VIII AFFC). 

It feels very strange to be quoting Cersei Lannister with regards to economic proposals, but as she muses in AFFC, Westeros does need a Central Bank. So my first proposal is for the creation of the Central Bank of Westeros (CBW). 

The CBW will be a treasury located at Harrenhal, operated by 9 dignitaries. One from Dorne, the Reach, the Stormlands, the Riverlands, the Westerlands, the Iron Islands, the Vale, and the North. The crownlands will be represented by the Master of Coin, who will serve as the major intermediary between the crown and the Central Bank. Together, the 9 lead members of the Central Bank will vote on proposals as well as oversee the daily operations of the treasury.

All 9 dignitaries will bring 200 men from their respective regions. 100 men will serve as a permanent garrison to protect the treasury. The other 100 will serve as operators to protect gold transfers and general operations within the region. Dignitaries will serve a period of no longer than 5 years. Harrenhal will forgo all of its lands and incomes to Riverrun, save all immediate lands required to sustain the Castle.

The creation of the CBW also creates a market for loanable funds for the realm. In short, a central lender allows for us to affect the economy of the realm using the methodology of the 3 equation model through new access to funds. 

The Importance of the Geographic location of Harrenhal

The Riverlands by Scafloc

Harrenhal serves as an advantageous location for the Central Bank of Westeros due to it central location, strong ability to garrison, and general proximity to the Riverlands. 

Harrenhal is very centrally located on the continent of Westeros. Due to this, allocating funds throughout the realm will be most efficient and equitable to all parties from this point. 

Harrenahl, by Lino Dreighe

Harrenhal was built by Harren the Black as a monument to himself. He intended it to be the greatest castle in the Seven Kingdoms The construction of the behemoth stronghold spanned 40 years. To this day, it is the largest castle in the Seven Kingdoms. Properly provisioned and garrisoned, Harrenhal could withstand a siege of epic length (so long as the foe doesn’t have dragons). Due to this, Harrenhal is a very safe location for the Central Bank to reside.

Harrenhals proximity to the Riverlands also provides a solution to another problem that has always plagued the economic growth of Westeros.

Inefficient Use of the Riverlands as a Trading Alley.

Due to its central location, the Riverlands have been caught in the crossfires of most major military conflicts throughout Westerosi history. This has resulted in general instability within the region that detracts from its potential economic usage as a major trading alley.

The Riverlands is the most centrally located region of the Seven Kingdoms, sharing a boundary with every other kingdom except Dorne. The region additionally contains waterways that connect with major portions of the rest of the Westeros. The Green Fork runs from The Neck to the headwaters of the Trident where it connects with the Blue Fork and the Red Fork, which run from the western portions of the region. They spill out into the Narrow Sea at Salt Pans. From the God’s Eye, one can book passage from Harrenhal all the way to King’s Landing via the Blackwater Rush. In addition to the vast waterways connecting the region, the largest road in the Kingdom (the Kings Road) runs directly through the region.  

Establishing the Central Bank of Westeros at Harrenhal will create a permanently garrisoned outpost that will help provide stability to the region. Stability within the region will encourage trading through the Riverlands, fostering greater economic connections between kingdoms that require traverse through the Riverlands.

Why Not Establish the Central Bank in Kings Landing?

Throughout the series of A Song of Ice and Fire, we see multiple issues occur with the current fiduciary system of Westeros. The Master of Coin is essentially the singular financial power in Kings Landing. The King and his council give orders to the Master of Coin, but the Master of Coin has bilateral control over the finances of the realm (where they borrow from, at what rates, how those funds are allocated, etc.). 

This can be extremely problematic if a person with ill-intent rises to this post. As it happens, at the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Petyr Baelish is Master of Coin. As covered in part 1 of this essay series, Petyr Baelish accepts predatory loans from the Iron Bank of Braavos that results in crippling debt and financial instability to the realm. 

Past having to look out for the Littlefingers of the world, the Central Bank being located in the capital city creates a conflict of interest with the crown, which already maintains an incredible amount of power. The Crown will maintain its own treasury, but the Central Banks purpose is to create liquidity for the rest of the realm, not operate as the crowns personal available funds pocket.

Pulling the Central Bank out of the capital organizes it as an organization that operates for the realm under the governing jurisdiction of the realm. 

One may argue that a Central Bank centralizes too much fiscal power in a single organization. However, a Central Bank would actually decentralize the current locust of fiscal power in two major ways:

  1. Currently the crown operates as a pseudo-Central bank, operated solely by whoever the current Master of Coin is. This essentially puts a single self-interested person in control of all financial loans and all of the crowns finances. Additionally, it intertwines the power of the crown with the availability of the treasury. A Central Bank pulls that power out of the crown and puts into a single minded organization interested only in the return of capital.
  2. By appointing dignitaries from each region, the fiscal responsibility of the realm is born by all members, represented in a fiscal governing body reflective of each region. 

As the Central Bank grows, separate divisions of the institution will be installed at the major ports of Kings Landing, Old Town, Lannisport, White Harbor, and Sunspear to reduce travel times and increase accessibility. 

Central Bank of Westeros’ Effect on the 3 equations model

The Central Bank of Westeros essentially creates the existence of a fiscal model that can reflect the economy of Westeros. A Central Bank that is accessible to all citizens (or as many as possible) creates a certain availability of loanable funds. An availability of funds will allow members of the Central Bank to determine the rate at which they can loan out those funds to prospective lendees. 

ISLM Curve (Figure 3)

 

The point at which available funds meets desired investment will determine the interest rate at which the Central Bank will pay dividends and lend loans. 

Central Bank Deduction

All citizens who are subject to taxation either from their respective lord’s or directly from the crown are eligible to deduct up to 15% of their total taxable bill through depositing the amount they claim in deduction in the Central Bank. 

This measure will help fill the coffers of the Central Bank and provide yearly incentive for people to continue making deposits. 

Effect of Stability in the Riverlands

The Riverlands has not performed economically to its potential for most of its history. As has been covered, this is largely due to the region consistently being directly in the line of military encounters. 

Creating the Riverlands as a trading avenue will help influence economic stimulus, as a stable Riverlands will create conditions more suitable and attractive to trade. As trade increases, total output (Y) will increase. Referencing Figure 3 above, at a higher level of trade we will have a new equilibrium at a higher level of both demand and supply for loanable funds at a lower (more affordable) interest rate.

Due to increased revenue as a result of increased trade, business owners will have more liquidity to spend on investment (almost acting like a tax credit, in this example). This results in an IS shift, which is an increase in total level of investment and a rising interest rate.

Rising interest rates due to increased demand of investment funds becomes more attractive to ‘savers’ (or, supplier of loanable funds).

In summation, stability in the Riverlands will affect the Westerosi economy in many ways. Increased trade due to a stable trading alley will increase total output and GDP. At a higher output level, interest rates will fall and business owners will seek investment opportunities. As business owners seek demand for loanable funds, interest rates will rise to meet an equilibrium point at which savers are willing to loan.

Bond of Westeros

The Central Bank of Westeros will offer a 1 year and 5 year bond with an interest rate determined by the market. This will give the CBW a tool to control the money supply and raise capital when needed.

The Bond of Westeros will allow the government to have some control of the money supply. Additionally, the Bond of Westeros will provide a tool for the government to raise capital when needed.

The Northern Relocation Stipend

In the first part of this essay, I noted how population is ineffectively distributed throughout Westeros. Specifically, the population gap between the Reach and the North is incredibly inefficient. In order to combat this, the Central Bank of Westeros will provide a relocation stipend of 1 Golden Dragon per year for those who move to Northern lands. 

In our world, the United States offers a dividend to citizens of Alaska (currently in 2019, it’s about a $2,000 annual dividend) called the Alaska Permanent Fund. It was established in 1982 as a way of not only enticing people to stay but also to help combat high prices on ‘imported’ goods. I could go on about the APF for far too long, but the point is it’s an example of a citizen dividend that really works.

Northern lords will be given tax breaks for levels of new citizens they allow to settle on their land. This will lead to an increase in wealth for Northern lords whose lands now become more productive. 

Effect on the ISLM

The Northern Relocation Stipend (NRS) will provide a natural stream of both human capital and currency into a portion of the realm that is economically stagnant.

Those who relocate will become apart of the Northern labor force. An increase in

the Northern labor force will allow the North to better utilize and access resources that are currently sitting as inventory due to a workforce that is not large enough to access it’s full potential. 

Additionally, those who relocate will earn one golden dragon per year as a stipend for relocation. This flow of capital will contribute to a multiplier effect on the economy, as relocated citizens will have liquid capital to spend within the northern economy. 

A flow of liquid capital into the northern economy will benefit all northerners. Business owners will have more willing and able consumers who can pay for goods due to increased demand. As businesses begin to grow, they will naturally require more employees who will then benefit from their own employment from a wage. The wages employees earn then gets funneled back into the economy once more for others to benefit from.

As can be seen, this is the multiplier effect at work. One golden dragon given to a single person breeds into an entire clutch of eggs, multiplying and creating more dragons.

This line of thinking is actually brought up by Petyr Baelish in the book series. However, Baelish has created another problem which needs to be addressed moving forward.

Negotiating New Terms With The Iron Bank

In ASOS, it is stated that the “crowns incomes are ten times higher than they were under Aerys.” Despite this, it is additionally indicated that this sum barely covers the usury on their loans. The vast majority of the loans come from the Faith, the Lannisters, and the Iron Bank. 

Considering the Faith and Lannister’s have specifically vested interest in the continued financial success of the crown, it’s relatively safe to say that it is the terms with the Iron Bank that are the more ‘dangerous debt’. 

In order to combat this issue, the crown will negotiate new terms with the Iron Bank. This may pose as a difficult measure, however, there are massive benefits that the Iron Bank may find appealing in a more economically stable Westeros.

Why it would be in the Iron Banks best interest to renegotiate.

Held to the current terms, Westeros will default on it’s loan. The Iron Bank could support another claimant and work to install a new ruler as recompense. However, wars are exceedingly costly and overthrowing the current government still wouldn’t guarantee that the Iron Bank gets its due.

Negotiating a better loan agreement (that isn’t being agreed upon by a Master of Coin who is purposefully accepting predatory loans) will actually result in a higher likelihood that the Iron Bank receives additional pay installments. Better terms for Westeros aren’t only beneficial for this specific loan, it’s also healthier for the Iron Bank in the Long Run.

In 2005, the International Monetary Fund conducted a study of more than 100 countries and four decades of data to determine the rate at which countries trading partners influence domestic growth. Even after adjusting for regional trends the study concluded the following;

“Trading partners relative income levels are positively correlated with growth, suggesting that the richer a country’s trading partners, the stronger is conditional convergence. A general implication of the results is that countries benefit from fast-growing and relatively more developed countries” (Arora, Vamvakidis).

Establishing Westeros as a booming economy and trading partner would have positive implications on Braavos’ ability to continue growing their domestic economy. For Braavos specifically, the North is a relatively pivotal trading partner. Adam Whitehead writes as much in his An Economic Map of Westeros project where he states, “A key export [of the North] is the (relatively) nearby Free City of Braavos, which hungers for wood to maintain its mighty fleet.” The North being more productive would have a direct economic effect on Braavos in the form of a higher supply of lumber being shipped from the North. At a higher supply, the price of timber would fall and Braavos could bolster its fleet at a lower cost. An increase in the size of the fleet would allow for a higher volume of trade. Additionally, a growing Westerosi economy provides more lucrative markets for a now larger Braavosi fleet to trade in. The end state of which is a larger volume of wealth and goods being funneled back into Braavos at a more optimal real price point. 

As economies grow around Planetos, so does the demand for loanable funds and thus the Iron Bank grows it’s clientele due to real economic growth around Planetos. 

As can be seen, It is thus by far in their best interest to foster economic growth in Westeros while still collecting on reasonable loans. 

Conclusion of solutions

Westeros has many opportunities for economic growth. The establishment of a central lender would help provide funds to growing business’ in the realm. The establishment of the central bank in the Riverlands would bring stability to a region that has been historically unstable. As the Riverlands becomes a stable region, it will become the major trading alley of the realm, fostering economic transaction between the different regions of Westeros. 

The relocation of willing citizens to the North will unlock resources currently sitting in inventory, as well as foster economic growth within a financially stagnant Northern region. Additionally, the increase in productivity in the North will provide incentive for renegotiating loan terms with the Iron Bank of Braavos.

Healthier and stable relations with the Iron Bank will benefit the growth of the Westerosi economy. As it grows, Westeros will become an international power house in trade that will bring prosperity to the whole of the realm.

Bib

Arora, Vivek, and Athanasois Vamvakidis. “How Much Do Trading Partners Matter for

Economic Growth.” JSTOR, International Monetary Fund, 2005, http://www.jstor.org/stable/30035946?seq=1.

1.) García, Elio M., and Linda Antonsson. “The Citadel.” The Citadel: So Spake Martin – Targaryen Kings, 2005, www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/Targaryen_Kings.

2.) Hibberd, James. “George R.R. Martin on Why Joffrey Died THAT Way.” EW.com, EW.com, 2014, ew.com/article/2014/04/13/george-r-r-martin-why-joffrey-killed/.

3.) Martin, George R. R. A Clash of Kings. New York :Bantam Books, 19992012. Print.

4.) Martin, G. R. R. (2011). A dance with dragons. New York: Bantam Books.

5.) Martin, George R. R. A Feast for Crows. New York :Bantam Books, 2011. Print.

6.) Martin, George R. R. A Game Of Thrones: Book One Of A Song Of Ice And Fire. New York : Bantam Books, 2011, c1996. Print.

  • 7.) Martin, G. R. R. (2000). A Storm of Swords. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

8.) Whitehead, Adam. “An Economic Map of the Seven Kingdoms.” Atlas of Ice and Fire, 3 May 2018, atlasoficeandfireblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/03/an-economic-map-of-the-seven-kingdoms/.

 

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Economics of Westeros

Part 1: An Analysis of Economic Problems Facing Westeros

by K.w. Dent

Introduction

Image result for michael klarfeld westeros
Westeros by Michael Klarfeld

Westeros has been economically stagnant for thousands of years. Since the Age of Heroes the infrastructure, finances, and prosperity of the realm have crawled along with only incremental advances that benefit the populous. So, what disease is Westeros suffering from?

In this essay, I will define the economic problems facing Westeros and provide policy proposals that will lead to a more optimal steady state for the Westerosi economy. In Part 1 of this essay series, I will begin by using Keynesian Demand Economics to explore the more systemic issues facing the economy of the Seven Kingdoms. 

To achieve that end, in Part 2, I will build on Keynesian Economics by using the 3-equations model to provide context for economic implications on policy. Both of these models will portray why and how certain policies will move the economy of Westeros to a more optimal steady state.

But before we get to the problems facing Westeros, let’s take a brief look at the history of the methodology.

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The Monster Who Wasn’t There: The Adaptation of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones

This essay contains Winds of Winter spoilers from a George RR Martin interview and a released sample chapter towards the end. So, beware, spoiler-averse!

Intro

Image result for tyrion books vs show

“I am Hugor Hill, a little monster. Your little monster, if you like. You have my word, all that I desire is to be leal servant of your dragon queen.” (ADWD, Tyrion III)

Game of Thrones, Season 8, Episode 5 “The Bells”  has ushered in a wave of controversy over Daenerys Targaryen burning King’s Landing after its surrender. While much of the controversy has focused on whether the necessary plot foundation and character groundwork for the event exists for Dany or even whether the act will occur in the books (I think it will occur in the books too for reasons I outlined back in 2015), there’s an under-analyzed aspect of the event in need of unpacking: namely, the character and role of Tyrion Lannister in the affair.

Tyrion Lannister is a fan-favorite character and viewed as one of the “good guys” on the show. But in the books, Tyrion is more ambiguous. A Game of Thrones has Tyrion’s darkness emerging at a few points, but it mostly stays in the background. But just prior to the publication of A Clash of Kings, author George RR Martin was interviewed by Amazon.com and stated:

Interviewer: “Do you have a favorite character?”

Martin: “I’ve got to admit I kind of like Tyrion Lannister. He’s the villain of course, but hey, there’s nothing like a good villain.” – Amazon.com Interview with GRRM, 1999

Tyrion’s Clash arc finds more darkness emerging in Tyrion, but it’s not until A Storm of Swords that this darkness comes roaring out. Thereafter, in A Dance with Dragons, we find Tyrion’s darkness festering into nihilism and self-loathing, resulting in monstrous acts and evil desires/thoughts.

But the version of Tyrion found in Game of Thrones is different, changed. The monster who emerges at the end of A Storm of Swords, who may have always been there in the books, is gone.

Tyrion in the show has most of his character flaws and evil deeds airbrushed from the narrative. While his murderous turn at the end of ASOS is retained in the show, there are two major story changes which undercut Tyrion’s plot resolution in Season 4. And when his arc progresses into Essos in Season 5, his character state, plot actions and even his underlying motivations are altered significantly from the source material as a result.

All of these changes have had consequences, undercutting the character of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.

And the fallout from the adaptation of Tyrion Lannister was felt most acutely in the destruction of King’s Landing.

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The Broken Country: Politics and Warfare in the Wake of Catastrophe, Part 2: Marriage, Lands and Allies

Intro

File:T Jedruszek BringersOfDread.jpg

Artwork by Tomasz Jedruszek

Westerosi politics has a passing resemblance to the politics of late medieval Europe. Mortaring the politics of Westeros is the concept of marriage, marriage alliance, heirs and family. And though the North considers itself separated out from the flowery politics of the South, the truth is that as George RR Martin has advanced the story of Westeros, the North has become more three dimensional, more political. And who better to help readers flesh out the complexity of northern politics than an immortal, skin-changing vampire: Roose Bolton.

As we talked about in part 1, Bolton rule of the North was designed by Tywin Lannister to be undercut down the road by Tyrion and Sansa. But Roose Bolton had an ally on his side: time. If the Leech Lord could secure the North politically, he could defend himself and his claim to the Wardenship of the North all the while working to achieve his true aim: to become King in the North.

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The History behind the George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood (And some tantalizing new clues about The Winds of Winter)

At long last, George RR Martin’s Fire and Blood, Volume One is here. And, though some fans were disappointed that it wasn’t The Winds of Winter, others rejoiced at having new material to read and talk about. New theories and ideas arose, while others saw parallels to the main series.

But how that material came to us is full of surprising turns and twists. And fans wonder whether Fire and Blood will help Martin in completing his long-awaited Wild C … The Winds of Winter. In that light, I reached out reached to Elio Garcia Jr and Linda Antonsson, George RR Martin’s co-authors of 2014’s The World of Ice and Fire, for an exclusive interview and peek behind the curtain.

And … I also learned some new things and rumors about Winds from others in the process.

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The Broken Country: Politics and Warfare in the Wake of Catastrophe, Part 1: Double-Crossing the Double-Crosser

Intro

Image result for Lannister Bolton sigil

The north is hard and cold, and has no mercy. (ASOS, Catelyn III)

The North was in ruins. The North is in ruins. The king was dead. His armies decimated. Half the country was under foreign occupation. And the Starks, the ancestral rulers of the North, were dead, fled or captives of hostile houses. The Ironborn Invasion, the savagery of the Bastard of Bolton and above all the Red Wedding had despoiled a whole region of its king, its lords, its lands, its armies and its people. Injustice reigns in the North. But despite all the horrors visited on the region, despite it being a broken country, there was hope, a hope that wrongs would be righted and that justice would return.

Hello! And welcome to a brand new monthly series analyzing northern politics and winter warfare in the wake of the Red Wedding. In this series, I’ll be covering the major, middling and minor players, their plots and their conspiracies set in the North. We’ll be taking a deep-dive into all of this, because if anything, the North is an intriguing mess. Shifting alliances, vengeance and claims to Winterfell and the North present readers of A Song of Ice and Fire with a chaotic and enticing plot that starts in A Storm of Swords and takes off in A Dance with Dragons.

To kick things off, I wanted to talk about a theory about a subtle double-crossing that starts in A Clash of Kings, bounds its way into A Storm of Swords and sees some ramifications in the northern plotline from A Dance with Dragons. Tywin Lannister conspired with Roose Bolton and Walder Frey to betray the Starks and end Stark independence, but that may not have been the only betrayal he planned. In fact, Tywin Lannister seemed to be planning another betrayal against those he conspired with.

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No Happy Choices and No Happy Endings: A Monstrous Sacrifice in TWOW

Intro

Melisandre_Fantasy_Flight_Games

Artwork by Fantasy Flight Games

“There is power in a king’s blood,” the old maester had warned, “and better men than Stannis have done worse things than this.” The king can be harsh and unforgiving, aye, but a babe still on the breast? Only a monster would give a living child to the flames. (ADWD, Jon I)

“Sacrifice is never easy or it is not true sacrifice” underpins the central struggle between Stannis, Melisandre and Davos in A Storm of Swords. Where Stannis wonders aloud, “what is the life of one bastard boy against a kingdom”, Davos responds with “everything.” The context of this conversation is the fate of Edric Storm, bastard nephew to Stannis. And while readers find resolution in the survival of Edric Storm in A Storm of Swords, the question that Stannis poses and Davos answers doesn’t conclude with Edric Storm.

While Game of Thrones showed us a version of that conclusion with the burning of Shireen Baratheon, this will likely not be the extent of the dynamic of human sacrifice in A Song of Ice and Fire. Instead, George RR Martin has laid down significant groundwork in the extant material for a similar conflict to erupt early in The Winds of Winter — with Melisandre, a Davos archetype and the life of a bastard boy set against the fate of a kingdom.

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