The Economics of the Black Panther Part 2

For reference: Wakanda, that’s the place in the photo, it’s not my photo but it looks nice right? Talk about “Instagram Influencer” pose though, who knew the Black Panther was such a try-hard. “Make them for it, and turn….”.

Oh if you haven’t read Part 1 yet, stop, go back, read that first, I need the views. But if you are here having read Part 1, and you’re somehow ready for more, I’ll dive right in.

In Part 2 – what if Wakanda, this superior economy, did suddenly appear in our globalised world? Would it be chaos or simple? Naturally the answer isn’t straight forward, but overall, it’s an optimistic result I think but you make your own minds up… am I hopelessly happy-go-lucky or somewhere about right?

As the film culminates Prince T’Challa the leader of Wakanda is open and willing to share his societies knowledge with the world. In the final scene, we see the creation of an outreach centre located in the US. So, is there any economic logic to this? Well, the Black Panther appears to adopt the view that the knowledge his people have gained is a public good meaning everyone should and could know what they know, for the sake of this episode we will make an assumption that they also mean any knowledge that can have an impact on production.

Knowledge is up there as the ultimate public good, it is available to everyone who can absorb it. New ideas, technologies, and practical know-how can be shared around the world, and it usually flows from the advanced countries of the time, where the knowledge gap between them and everyone else is largest. Okay yes, there’s problems with this theory in the short term as there may be monetary and non-monetary restrictions to accessing this knowledge i.e. having to spend over £300 on ‘essential’ university textbooks to access your course, only to use them as a place mat for your super noodles. It is hardly accessible, public knowledge in the short run. But in the long run this should all work itself out.

In contrast, take the 18th Century industrialisation of Britain as a more legitimate example, the country was leading the way in the world at that time, for numerous reasons. But British technology advancements and techniques made their way abroad such as the steam engine, the combustion engine, and the use of coal and petroleum. This flow of knowledge then helped to kick start industrialisation in Europe and America.

By the same logic, Wakanda’s knowledge, technology and practical know-how should advance the global economy by creating a catch-up effect where the rest of the world can make substantial gains in healthcare, transportation and communications and so on. As Wakandan knowledge makes its way around the world, this should improve the living standards of the globe. But would world leaders receive these bountiful gifts from a previously secretive nation with open arms? Mmmm, I’m not so sure. But we won’t get into that.

Now let us consider the impact for Wakanda and its own population. Wakanda itself would see an explosion of demand from foreign consumers for its highly specialised and valuable goods and services that can’t be found anywhere else… yet. Klaue, the guy with the prosthetic arm cannon thing, remember him? He had a crack at nabbing some premium Wakanda technology but that didn’t pan out so well for him in the end. Unlucky Andy Cerkis back to the C.G.I roles you go…

Anyway where was I….It’s likely that market forces would kick in, as this high foreign demand for the latest Wakandan know-how and tech would drive prices upward, boosting the profitability of the nation’s sellers. This spike in exports would fuel further economic growth in Wakanda as all the businesses profits should impact employees, consumers and the government who in turn can spend this money in the Wakandan economy. Seemingly, multiplying economic growth from an initial change in exports, a concept simply known as the ‘multiplier effect’.

Ultimately, as this knowledge makes it way around the world in the long-long run everyone benefits, including Wakanda. As the globe becomes more knowledgeable and advanced new methods and ideas will flow back and forth helping every nation in some way.

But this happy story isn’t without it’s bumps in the road. There are some economic downsides for the Wakandans who are now exposed to the world. If their knowledge, ideas and technologies had been kept well protected, the nation would be able to maintain an absolute competitive advantage. Simply put, they’d remain the best at doing what they do. But if all of this knowledge is treated as a public good, in the long-run Wakanda would start to lose its edge as other countries use that knowledge to catch up.

In other-words, if you’re a thriving nation sharing is caring, but at times you’ll hate it if you’re the only one able and willing to share.

Published by James Oliver

The Tulip Teacher Discussing all things business, economics and education

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