The Harvard Crimson says that parts of Game of Thrones mirror our own world. Unfortunately, it’s not the dragons, constant swordplay and nudity. It’s the economy:
But the fate of the Seven Kingdoms was perhaps sealed before the show’s start. The continent was at the end of a long nine-year summer that followed an earlier civil war. Instead of ruling frugally, like his wise Northman friend Ned Stark suggested, King Robert lavished gold on dueling tournaments and hunting trips.
This is a narrative that Americans can relate to. From 1980 to 2005, technological advances and economic liberation around the globe made this era an incredible time for growth, a true “long summer” if there was one. However, just like the lavish king, the American federal government did not contain its spending problem, highlighted by costly programs such as expansion of Medicare with no long term feasibility. Local governments also piled up frivolous spending programs such as the 3 billion dollar sewer in Birmingham, Alabama and the 24 billion dollar tunnel in Boston.
In the show, King Robert ran a deficit every year when the time was good—because he could. His “Master of Coin,” Littlefinger, was a resourceful man who found a way to borrow gold at a good rate whenever the king wished. Real life politicians, whose re-election odds depend on the amount of favors they can pass out to constituents and donors, are also always pushing to spend more. Financial deregulation and globalization, combined with seemingly good credit ratings, make such borrowing incredibly cheap and easy for national and local governments. It should not be a surprise, then, that these very governments end up borrowing and spending more than they should in good times.