WASHINGTON — In the eagerly-awaited season 7 premiere of HBO’s hit TV series, “Game of Thrones,” Jon Snow and Cersei Lannister each learned some tough lessons about having scarce resources.
At least, that is what intrigued us as economics writers for The Associated Press. We’re watching how economic issues affect the characters’ schemes for power, and finding parallels with our own world. The latest episode of our audio show, the “Wealth of Westeros,” can be found here .
Snow, the brooding “King of the North” who faces an impending invasion by ice zombies, needs more dragonglass, which we call obsidian. It can kill the zombies, but he doesn’t know where one of the biggest stockpiles is.
No one in Westeros, where “Game of Thrones” takes place, has needed massive stockpiles of dragonglass for thousands of years. So maybe that’s why they lost track of one of the biggest veins, which lies under a castle named “Dragonstone.”
Only in the season 7 premiere did Snow’s sidekick, Samwell Tarly, figure this out. Now Snow may have to travel more than a thousand miles to find his precious glass.
Husbanding resources to bolster national security is an important consideration in the modern-day United States as well. Just as dragonglass is crucial to Westerosi security, the Trump administration has been considering whether national security is a sufficient reason to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The metals are used in tanks, armoured vehicles, and fighter jets, so some officials argue that restricting imports is critical to U.S. security.
But the Trump administration is doing so out of concerns that excess production by China hurts U.S. steel companies, rather than addressing a current shortage of steel and aluminum.
Cersei Lannister, meanwhile, who snatched the Iron Throne at the end of season six after a massive bombing she orchestrated, is running low on an even more basic resource: Food for the men and horses in her army.
Several leading members of the Tyrell family were killed in the blast, which not surprisingly has turned the Tyrells against Cersei and her brother, Jaime Lannister. The Tyrells control the Reach, essentially the bread basket of Westeros, which means the Lannisters are likely to lose their principal source of grain and meat.
“We can’t win a war if we can’t feed our men and our horses,” Jaime says.
Yet the Lannisters’ principal enemy, the “mother of dragons,” Daenerys Targaryen, heads an army of thousands, without a hint of how she is somehow feeding, clothing and maintaining them.
But then, it is a fantasy show, after all.