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Tyler Cowen

Economists' View of Qatar Cutoff Is a Little Scary

American security guarantees are falling in value.
Flights canceled.

Flights canceled.

Photographer: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

Experts on international relations typically approach foreign affairs using different tools than economists use. The analysts -- with their knowledge rooted in a deep study of a particular country or region -- deploy complex, interdisciplinary models with many moving parts and less formalism. Economic models of foreign policy are more likely to assume some kind of rational behavior, use more game theory and treat the capture of wealth as a significant political end.

Suffice to say, economic models have not taken over the study of international relations, but periodically it is worth checking in to see what they say. And right now there is a big red light flashing: the trade and border shutdowns that Saudi Arabia and six other countries have directed at Qatar, a highly vulnerable nation that imports most of its food.