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Opinion
Tyler Cowen

What Will Putin Do Next? Game Theory Offers Some Clues

Economics teaches that most people respond to incentives, but not people who are obsessed with power.  

What is he thinking?

What is he thinking?

Photographer: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP

As tensions grow between Russia and Ukraine, so does the importance of understanding the mindset of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Two questions are of particular concern: Is he rational? And can he be deterred?

As I like to say sometimes, it’s time for some game theory. The answers, unfortunately, are: Yes and no. That is, he is probably rational and cannot easily be deterred.