SFI External Professor Dan Rockmore and collaborators have created a network model of world trade from 1870 to 2006 and are using it to identify critical links, stressors, and transition points in the world economy.
They've used the model to simulate what happens to the world economy when certain countries trade less, as might happen during a period of internal strife, or when when the trade links between certain countries are broken, as might happen during a war.
The researchers says it is possible to work out the most important trade links in the world by asking what effect they would have elsewhere if they were cut, causing a ripple effect through the network. They also can study how changes in a single economy can influence the rest of the world.
Read the MIT Technology Review article (April 26, 2011)
Read the research paper (April 22, 2011)