There is woefull economic underdevelopment as a whole In Westeros imho.
-The road network is quite lacking, not only lack of good roads but probably way to few of them too.
-Education is lacking. Sure there is the citadel, but there is practicly no education elsewhere and its limited seemingly to the noble class. A few more "university's" would be nice, like in KL, Gulltown, Lannisport, White harbor, asside of maybe the faith providing some basic education sponsored by the crown.
-There's a lack of city's, or urban centre's. Most of Westeros it's economy is based on agriculture, hunting/gathering, mining and some metalworking. Niches are things like wine making in the Arbor and Dorne. The poppulation thus lives mostly of the lands around castles and lords get income from taxation.
You get the feeling that the Westerosi lords don't feel much incentive for economic development, rather that they would be looking to increase the effeciency of taxation in their lands and try to expand their holdings. Personally i think Westerosi lords have way to few to do in actually managing their lands and are left with times on their hands to feast, joust and have fun, or plot against eachother and war for anothers lands, while the farmers are kept dumb and bound to their lands. It's not exactly a very progressive economic enviroment.
you can get an impression of such "management mentality" in the sworn sword, Where lady Weber dams a river during a very dry time to ensure that her lands have water while she doesn't care for anyone downstream, and oh yeah she has to ensure that her moat is at all times filled with water too. The lords fight over such rights as to using water or being able to hunt in certain forrests etc.
It looks to be a bit different for such lords who have more to gain with skillfull economic management than most others, namely the richer lords who's wealth seem not in a small part due to trade/exports, like the Redwyne's, the Hightowers and the Manderly's. I guess these family's have reason to consider economic matters and i'm sure some people in the Redwyne family know just about how much barrels of wine they produce yearly, how much of it gets exported and to which places and which prices they fetch at various places maybe even depending on the specific vintage. Surely for a family like the redwyne's who probably depend by now to some extend on the wealth of their trade to support their numbers in men and ships, various causes which might lead to global or local decrease of demand are things for them to consider, they need to secure their markets if they maintain a trade fleet and such is likely since they maintain a fairly large fleet as it is.
Certainly the Arbor and Oldtown are among the best developed regions of the whole of Westeros.
But there are probably reasons for this. Firstly, the techniques of Valyrian masonry were lost with the Doom. Secondly, the realm has only been united recently, for a few centuries
Doesn't look like a good excuse to me. Even withought Valyrian methods of masonry, once people have iron/steel tools working with stone should be fairly effecient. And the Romans did not need centruy's to lay 1000's of miles of really quality road.
Edited by Waters Gate, 04 March 2014 - 01:12 PM.