Fletcher in the News

What would a Korean war cost? Professor Martel Weighs In

The Christian Science Monitor

William C. Martel is Associate Professor of International Security Studies at The Fletcher School, Tufts University.

What would a Korean war cost? Gauging the economic turmoil.

If a real shooting war came to the Koreas, the economic disruption would be global, though Asian nations likely would pay a higher price than the US. Some economists fear significant long-term changes to international trade.

Korea-based Samsung is one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world. LG, another large Korean electronics firm, is an important manufacturer of appliances and electronics. And the Korean Steel Industry produces more than 4 percent of the world’s steel.

So what would happen if the heated rhetoric gets out of hand on the Korean Peninsula, leading to some form of actual conflict?

Economists think any war in Korea has the potential over the short term to cause a lot of economic turmoil. Automobile companies might have to lay off workers until they could line up alternative suppliers, and large consumer electronics firms such as Apple might be hard-pressed to fill orders.

On a longer term basis, though, it might even diminish world trade as companies reconsider how they do business.

...“I can’t come up with a scenario that does not take the global energy markets and throw them into a tailspin,” says William Martel, associate professor of international security studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

Although the cost of any war in Korea would be expensive, Mr. Martel estimates the US economy is sufficiently strong to afford it. “It won’t break us,” he says. “It will be significant, but it won’t change our way of life. But, in the case of South Korea, I don’t see any way it can escape unscathed.”

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