Economic Science look at Wikileaks : Perfect Information


There is a major economic outlook on perfect and imperfect markets. Perfect markets are formed when everybody has all of the information, imperfect markets are when a few players can manipulate the markets to their advantage.

There was a large amount of controversy Sunday night and Monday as WIkiLeaks continued their leak of secret material that they gained in February. Information off \”private\” cables sent between U.S. diplomatic offices. Earlier this year, documents were released that had details about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Today, Senators remarked to times reporters that they would see that is punishable to the extent of the law.

Information is only as secret as the people you trust it with

In today\’s world, we\’re becoming a lot more exposed to the idea that sharing something on a social network will mean that the world will know about it. Companies use applications like RapLeaf to find out all information about job applications and partners. And leaks occur.  The system can be gamed, if one person has access, people without explicit access can access it. And sometimes it\’s opt out, not opt in.

The information is out there, whether you like it or not

The key behind these government secrets is that they were LEAKED. Does this mean somebody had malicious intent and shared them only with Wikileaks? I\’d suggest that any legitimate threats that have mult-billion dollar intelligence agencies (North Korea, Iran, China, Russia) probably already had the information. I\’m sure that people with top secret information willing to part ways with it find ways to get nice side bonuses first.

The PR War

If anything. The U.S. Government is just admitting to making decisions that are counter intelligent, counter diplomatic, or very unpopular to the citizens of both the U.S. and the overall world.  Afganistan has always been an unpopular war (in the 70s with the Russians and now with the U.S.) and Vietnam proved that the PR Campaign is a legitimate strategy to fight a War.

Perfect Information Theory

So here is the economic view on WikiLeaks. We can have imperfect information where the U.S. Government pretends that unprotected information is somehow secret, even though the information security threat is continually escalating even with the most top secret information: pretending doesn\’t make things disappear, pretending that the reports never existed doesn\’t mean that security wasn\’t alerted (ATTACK is IMMINENT Japanese Pearl Harbor / 9/11/2001 style.)  Or the whole world can know everything, and in this case it might affect public opinion, it might affect Afghani public opinion – but most importantly the playing field is leveled – And our enemies now have one less piece of information to attack us with because, well, it\’s not a secret now.\\

The What Ifs

Here are a handful of \”imperfect information\” items that would have changed the 20th and 21st centuries.

  • Pearl Harbor hadn\’t have happened because of a Japanese wiki leak
  • World War II would have ended sooner because concentration camps would have been more real to the American People
  • Joseph McCarthy\’s \”list of names\” had been discovered to just be a phone book
  • Information on an upcoming terrorist attack would have been shared amongst departments (or even the people) instead of the system breaking down
  • Colin Powell would have known the real intelligence before he went to the UN for Iraq.