The Economics of Star Wars

Posted: 4:29 PM, Dec 21, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-21 16:29:37-05

The Force Awakens is answering what happens 30 after Return of the Jedi. But what happened right after that scrappy Rebel Alliance blew up the second Death Star? The List's Jimmy Rhoades shares: 

Put it this way: Admiral Akbar had it right.

Emperor Palpatine – aka, the evil Sith Lord Darth Sideous – would have made sure that even if he lost, he’d win. No wonder so many of the characters had a bad feeling about this.

Now there’s even a bona fide academic study to back up the idea that Palpatine/Sideous would have made sure that if the Rebel Alliance won, they’d lose.

Zach Feinstein, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, explains: “The destruction of the second Death Star at the Battle of Endor is a poison pill because the Galactic Empire’s dissolution would cause a depression on the order that modern economics has never seen. People won't have any money. There will be no economy left at the end of the day.”

In a nutshell: There would have been massive bank loans to build the Death Star. When it gets blown up, all those loans would be in default. And the government that would have been able to guarantee those loans has just been overthrown.

So the Rebels would take over a ruined economy. And by every indication – while they’re a scrappy, rag-tag bunch – they simply wouldn’t have the resources to prop up the banking sector. Professor Feinstein goes into great detail in his study, which you can find here.

What about pressing matters NOT covered in Zach’s research?  Glad you asked…


During economic downturns, people often drown their sorrows. So would the Cantina in Mos Eisley be booming or bankrupt? Zach is pretty certain that, “The Mos Eisley Cantina is obviously booming because of the band. The band is bringing people flocking from far and wide to go listen to their music. So it doesn't matter what’s happening with the economy, people are going to see that band.”


Jedi all have to make their own weapons. So is there like an Etsy for lightsabers? And is it an expensive DIY project? Zach says, “The most expensive part of building a lighsaber would be the crystal. And at the end of the previous movie, there was only one living Jedi, so there wouldn't be much demand.” And, of course, low demand means low prices.


Yeah, this is pre-Deat Star blowing up, but you know you’ve wondered: Did Darth Vader have and HMO or a PPO? Zach think he’d be all set: “As a government employee, he would have had great insurance. But he would have had to fill out a lot of paperwork. And he might have had problems with his life support suit. I'm sure there are times when his visor displayed the blue screen of death.”


May the Force be with you. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Professor Feinstein emphasizes that, “No Bothans died to bring us this information.”