Economic Theory

The economics of Game of Thrones

House Greyjoy in Game of Thrones is the ultimate symbol of statist economics. Their family motto ‘We de not sow’ (meaning ‘We do not produce wealth, we plunder it’), their contempt for voluntary exchange (‘paying the gold price’) and their glorification of violent predation (‘paying the iron price’) are expressions of an economic model based on wealth extraction through the use of force. In a different way, the same is true for the Dothraki, a nomad tribe that makes a living out of plundering and enslaving other tribes. King’s Landing appears to be a lot closer to a capitalist economy, but behind the scenes, it has its fair share of rent seeking, i.e. wealth extraction through more sophisticated political means. Perhaps the Iron Bank is the closest thing to a capitalist model. Game of Thrones may be a fantasy series, but as Dr Matthew McCaffrey explained in his presentation at the IEA THINK conference, if you look closely, you will find that it is full of economic motives with uncanny real world parallels.