Economics of Warfare 9

Examining the ninth lecture from Professor Michael Spagat’s Economics of Warfare course that he gives at Royal Holloway University. It is posted on his blog Wars, Numbers and Human Losses at:

This lecture opens with a discussion on government bond markets and World War II. As a military historian, this is not an approach I ever considered. Slide 3 is interesting. There is a noticeable decline in French government bond prices in the months leading up to May 1940 (the month the Germans actually invaded France). There is then a rather abrupt break in the graph.

Starting with slide 5 Dr. Spagat goes into a discussion of Angola and Jonas Savimbi (just to refresh your memory: The interesting result is that (slide 19), the end of the Savimbi rebellion (as determined by the date of his death) “…was bad for the diamond companies operating in Angola”….and interestingly enough (slide 23): “An important conclusion from the study is that it might be wrong to assume that businesses operating in war-torn countries and the government officials in these countries are all automatically in favor of pace. Influential actors may actually benefit economically from the continuation of a war.”

Dr. Spagat these switches to the ETA and the Basque Independence Movement in Spain (slide 24). This was a very small movement (see slide 25). The conclusion (slide 33) is that “…terrorism has been costly for the Basque region of Spain.”

Then Dr. Spagat switches gears to comparing European economic growth to Chinese economic growth (slide 34) over the course of around 1800 years. This is using Angus Maddison’s figures, which was an effort to measure the world economy by country over the course of history. I just happen to have a copy of his book, The World Economy, sitting on my desk. Strongly recommend everyone own a copy. Anyhow, the discussion from slide 35-38 addresses a hypothesis by Voightlander and Voth (their paper is linked on slide 35) that “They claim that Europe had a lot more wars than China did and that this actually explains why Europe grew more than China.” I am not sure I buy into this suggestion, and am I not sure that Dr. Spagat does either, but it is an interesting viewpoint.

Anyhow, not sure what the main takeaway is from all this, but it is damn interesting.

The link to the lecture is here:


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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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