Star Wars: Study Shows Destroying the Death Star Would Also Destroy the Galactic Economy

Wednesday, 02 December 2015 - 9:45AM
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 - 9:45AM
Star Wars: Study Shows Destroying the Death Star Would Also Destroy the Galactic Economy
Considering that Star Wars is a space opera adventure, most fans don't spend a lot of time thinking about the financial ramifications of the huge destructive battles. But one fan decided to look into it, and according to a new academic study, the destruction of the very expensive Death Star would have sent the Galactic economy into ruin.

In the paper, hilariously titled "It's a Trap: Emperor Palpatine's Poison Pill," Zachary Feinstein, a professor of financial engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, argues (only a little facetiously) that it's likely that Palpatine baited the Rebel Alliance into destroying the Death Star because he knew it would backfire on them and ruin the economy. He compares finances and economics to a real-life "Force," something that "binds the galaxy together." As a successful politician, Palpatine would have known the consequences of destroying the Death Star, and courted it on purpose.

Opening quote
Darth Vader recognized that moon-sized space stations were not as all-powerful as the force-insensitive believed; he quipped in response to the first Death Star, "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force" (Lucas (1977)). Lord Vader's logic can be taken further, as we conjecture Emperor Palpatine considered and we will show, to prove that the true power of the technological terror is from the power of economic terror unleashed in the case of its failing; i.e., in case of the Rebel Alliance succeeding, an automatic financial attack on the entire Galaxy would be realized.
Closing quote

Feinstein came to this conclusion by modeling the Galactic economy. From the projected costs of building both Death Stars and the amount of time that had passed, he theorized that the government would have had to borrow a lot of money from the banking system, and probably still would have been in a large amount of debt when both the Death Star and the Empire were destroyed- $500 quintillion to be exact.

As a result, the Rebel Alliance would have needed to be prepared in order to prevent financial ruin; they would have needed financial reserves of at least 15% of the Galactic economy in order to pay back the government's debt and avoid the collapse of the economy.

Opening quote
"Given that the Rebel Alliance is the 'scrappy underdog,' without the resources to build multiple moon-sized space stations, this is a sum they do not have," Feinstein wrote. "Without such funds at the ready, it likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression of astronomical proportions."
Closing quote

Considering how well the long, protracted trade agreements in the prequel trilogy were received, it's pretty unlikely that we'll ever see any mention of finances in a Star Wars movie again. But that's all right, because that's what academic papers are for (apparently).

Via NBC News.
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