Mathematical ecologist Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut in Storrs has used mathematical modeling to identify historical cycles of political instability and breakdown.
According to Turchin, a model that combines economic output per person, the balance of demand for and supply of labor, and shifting attitudes about wealth redistribution accounts for changes in real wages since 1930.
While Turchin admits that his model must be tested against real-world events, he says it has already done a good job foretelling events in Washington. It "predicts the long-term conditions that led to this shutdown," he said in early October.
Read New Scientist's coverage.