Here's How Much The Death Star Would Have Cost

The Death Stars were a threat not just to planets, but financial markets too. LucasArts/Disney

The destruction of both Death Stars by The Rebel Alliance in Star Wars is generally celebrated as a great success (despite the war seemingly continuing on in "The Force Awakens"), but according to a researcher, Professor Zachary Feinstein of Washington University in St. Louis, destroying them would have been catastrophic for the galactic economy and the rebel chances to establish a second republic. You might dismiss this paper as a waste of time, but many Bothans died to bring us this information.

According to the U.S. government, the first Death Star cost $852 quadrillion (thousand million million), 11,000 times the gross world product, which is estimated to be about $77 trillion dollars. But this latest paper, available on ArXiv, estimates that the total cost of building two Death Stars in "A New Hope" and "Return of the Jedi" was $419 quintillion (billion billion) dollars when research and development are also factored in.

To estimate the Gross Galactic Product (GGP), Professor Feinstein compared the development of the first atomic bomb to the development of the Death Star. Based on the cost of the battle stations being 0.21 percent of the total Empire budget, compared to the cost of the Manhattan Project, the estimate for the GGP is $92 sextillion (thousand billion billion) during the 20 years of the Empire.

These costs might seem manageable by the Empire based on their GGP, but it is not the cost that is the major issue. Rather, it is the financial market that was likely heavily invested in the Death Stars (yes, this is going a bit too far now). The construction cost is likely the major outstanding debt of the galactic government (on the assumption that Emperor Palpatine is a fiscally conservative leader), so the banks who have financed the Death Stars will be in trouble after the fall of the Empire, according to Feinstein.

No matter what Lucas included in the special editions, not everyone would be celebrating the death of Palpatine. Panic and fear would spread throughout the galaxy. Without a central government, the galactic economy would collapse. If the Rebel Alliance wanted to bring balance to the galaxy, they would have to provide a substantial bailout, more than they could probably afford.

“In this case study we found that the Rebel Alliance would need to prepare a bailout of at least 15 percent, and likely at least 20 percent, of GGP in order to mitigate the systemic risks and the sudden and catastrophic economic collapse,” concludes Professor Feinstein in the paper, which is available on ArXiv. “Without such funds at the ready, it [sic] likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression of astronomical proportions.”

Was this Palpatine's backup plan all along? Is predicting economic trends one of the unnatural abilities Sith Lords possess?  

For sure, we are going to learn about the state of the galaxy in the opening credits of Episode VII, but personally, we have a bad feeling about this.

(h/t: Popular Science)

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