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Tyler Cowen

How Will the Shutdown End? Time for Some Game Theory

One group has more power than any other to decide how long this goes on: federal employees.

Who raises and lowers it?

Who raises and lowers it?

Photographer: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

So when and how will the shutdown end? A bit of game theory is in order. Game theory doesn’t usually serve up exact predictions, but it can help us see around corners and find unexplored angles. In this case, the key actors may be the employees of the U.S. government.

Right now most Americans disapprove of the government shutdown, and most voters are not obsessed about building a wall on the Mexican border. That said, the shutdown doesn’t yet seem like a pressing issue for Middle America. Uber and Lyft drivers in Washington may be hurting, but for most of the country life is going on pretty normally.