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View Full Version : How to Cripple an Economy



sk3erkrou
05-28-2015, 04:22 PM
Hey everybody,
In my story, I have a character who wants to irreparably damage the economy of the United States. What are some ways that they could do this? A few details: they are not an American citizen and do not live in the USA. They are extremely wealthy and have nearly limitless resources. Also, they have been working toward this for the past twenty years.
Thanks in advance for the replies!

King Neptune
05-28-2015, 05:26 PM
Some of the simpler ways would be to increase the regulations on businesses to the point where it became cheaper to manufacture in other countries, which would put many of the manufacturing employees out of work. Then establish an income tax system that rewards cheating, and taxes different people at different rates, depending on how they make their money and who they know; thus removing the incentive for working. And then you could encourage foreign economies to buy up the productive assets and ship products and, more importantly, profits out of the country. Basically, do what the U.S. has done in the last fifty years; get people out of the labor market, and disincentive productive work, while making financial fraud more profitable and better protected.

jclarkdawe
05-28-2015, 06:17 PM
Take a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Thursday

Economies tend to have ways of bouncing back eventually. Witness the Great Depression.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

autumnleaf
05-28-2015, 07:37 PM
I can think of one example of an economic superpower that became an economic has-been: Argentina. Maybe look into what happened there?

MythMonger
05-28-2015, 08:35 PM
"irreparably" makes this tough to answer. Humans adapt, and so would Americans even after the damage done to the economy. Maybe think of it terms of a few decades or so?

Anyway... my thought is that this person could buy up all the US nuclear plants, then shut them down. That accounts for a good 20% of America's energy production. Buy up a ton of coal burning plants and natural gas plants(?) and that tops out at 85% of the all US energy production (according to this site: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=427&t=3). It wouldn't even have to be that much... I bet taking less than half of the energy production away would overload the system enough that very little would work.

America would be forced into some kind of old style agrarian economy, which 90% of non farmers are entirely unprepared for.

Twick
05-28-2015, 09:40 PM
I hope they'll take into consideration that after they economically "nuked" one of the major economic powers, they themselves probably won't be "extremely wealthy" any more. Just like if they'd used a real nuke, the rest of the world will be affected by the fallout.

sk3erkrou
05-28-2015, 10:06 PM
I hope they'll take into consideration that after they economically "nuked" one of the major economic powers, they themselves probably won't be "extremely wealthy" any more. Just like if they'd used a real nuke, the rest of the world will be affected by the fallout.

One thing about the antagonist in this case is that they have not thought past accomplishing their goals. They have become so obsessed that they will do just about anything to destroy the economy.

ElaineA
05-28-2015, 11:01 PM
I'm not quite sure what your antagonist's goal is. The thread title says cripple, and I can think of lots of ways to do that. Then you say irreparably, and I can't think of one way to do that, because humans have always had some variation on an "economy," even if it was "you shoot the mastadon, I'll skin it, we'll share in the meat and I can trade whatever I can't eat for new spear points." We'll always find a way to buy/sell/trade eventually.

Then you say, destroy the economy...so do you mean in the short term? Massive disruption, panic, or do you mean America as we know it ceases to exist? Is the entire story about this, so that you'd want your Ant working on it the entire book? So it's a long-ranging set-up to the destruction?

For a short term, quick hit at the economy, I've always considered a massive computer disruption of the financial systems (banks, stock markets, companies that manage data transfer between ATM/debit kiosks and wherever they go, etc) the surest way to accomplish that. Pretty much every area of the economy is dependent on some computer system. Take down enough of them all at once et voila. If there is a way not only to disrupt, but to infect them in a way that would make it nearly impossible to get things back up and running in a matter of days (ie a true virus, one that constantly changes the DNA of the code), the interruption would be massive.

Also along those same lines, a massive interruption of the electrical grid, which would disrupt widespread systems. We had a huge power outage a few winters ago that lasted more than a week. The back up generator failed at our local grocery store and the checkers couldn't even get the cash drawers open to sell anything (even if they knew what the price of the thing was), and the one local gas station couldn't pump any gas.

Again, people would find ways around this stuff eventually, so it depends on what your story goal is.

WeaselFire
05-29-2015, 12:33 AM
In my story, I have a character who wants to irreparably damage the economy of the United States. What are some ways that they could do this?

Kill all the bees.

Jeff

madjack
05-29-2015, 08:56 AM
First thing I thought of was to take down the Internet since so many of us rely on it for work now. Or the electrical grid - with an NEMP (Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse) bomb.

egearbox
06-06-2015, 09:15 AM
First thing I thought of was to take down the Internet since so many of us rely on it for work now. Or the electrical grid - with an NEMP (Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse) bomb.

Nukes would definitely do it. One suitcase nuke in NY or Washington would damage the country severely.

Rufus Coppertop
06-06-2015, 04:13 PM
America would be forced into some kind of old style agrarian economy, which 90% of non farmers are entirely unprepared for.America would simply take over the plants and keep them running and probably sell them on to someone reliable having demonstrated what happens to people who buy infrastructure with a view to crippling the economy. Mr Economic Shutdown would probably find himself in a federal prison.