Tropico 4: Modern Economy Guide

Just like in real-life your Island can adapt to a number of possible “Economic Systems”. We have the “3rd World” Agricultural/Mining/Base Resource Economies, Developing Industrial, and more Modern “Service Based” Economies. Tropico 4 follows a similar idea. You can have an Economy based around Agriculture, Heavy Industry and/or Tourism. Some of these are more profitable than others, depending on your circumstances. However, with the Modern Times DLC you have access to a more “Service” based Economy (not forgetting Tourism, but that’s a different type of Service Provider). This short guide aims at showing how you can boost your existing Economy, slowly switching from Industry and Agriculture into what we would call a “Modern” Economy. There are still many benefits to holding on to your previous income sources, but these “Modern” options allow you to exploit your island further than before.

If you are looking for something different, why not check our short 10 Tip List, or our Guide to Industry?

Tropico 4

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Tropico 4: Your Modern Economy

Let us make something clear. While having access to Modern buildings is useful you should not expect an Economy running purely on offices, media structures and the “internet”. First of all, Modern Economy buildings are not that profitable. A factory selling cars (even with its buggy transport efficiency) is more profitable than a fully staffed office (in the long run). However, factories create pollution, and they take up space, and resources. An office has to pay out wages (description claims they do not, but I am skeptical of that claim) and has a small upkeep, but there are no additional out-standing costs. An office can also house a decent number of workers, so having plenty of offices on your island is not a bad idea (and you are not limited to the number of office types, you can have as many of them as you like). Let us talk briefly about each of the buildings that I consider “Modern”, and what role they can play out in your economy. Take note, most of these are only available through the Modern Times DLC, so if you do not have that your choices are far more limited.

Business Center - These are the “Offices” that I spoke of. Business Centers cost, without any traits or skills, 8,000 USD to build. They will initially allow only 10 employees, but with an upgrade you can have up to 20. This is a low Job Quality structure, but any uneducated workers can work here. By installing Water Coolers the Job Quality will increase greatly. Your Business Center has three modes of production. It may be a Mortgage, Life-Insurance or an Advertisement Company. Each one of these Modes has its strengths and usefulness. For example, if you have a lot of Modern Domestic buildings focused in one area then a Mortgage or Life-Insurance company can generate a lot of income. Advertisement Companies generate income based on Media buildings around them (Radio, Television, Newspapers). According to the building’s description you do not pay any wages to workers in Business Centers, and their wage is set to whatever your island’s average wage is (based on my own observation). Even when I look at the “Financial Sheet” a Life-Insurance Company on my island that was placed among many Residential buildings turned out a decent profit, even when its workers were paid 24 USD each. However, this profit (if memory serves right) turned out to be only around 200,000 USD over a course of maybe ten to twenty years (if we took out the associated wages the “profit” would be 280,000 USD). It’s a low profit option, but not a bad one, since you can have numerous office buildings stacked next to each other. As such, if you had, let us say, five Business Centers you could churn up, safely, 100,000 USD of profit each year (assuming your workers were fully skilled, and the Business Centers were in high profit areas). It’s your first step into a Modern Economy. You will need Power to keep them running, and while you might provide people with a lot of cheap jobs do not rely on Business Centers entirely.

Babel Tower - Imagine that instead of an ordinary Business Center you had something… ten times the size? Well, perhaps not that much bigger, but it can provide jobs for fifty people. According to the in-game description how much money this building generates depends on the number of workers, their skills *and* the money sum on your Swiss Account. However, this building does not increase your Swiss Bank Account, it provides money for the treasury. My personal use of the Babel Tower is to give a lot of Unemployed a lot of jobs quickly. There might be more profitable options but if you aim for a Modern Economy make some space for the Babel Tower.

Bank/National Bank - The National Bank is provided by the Modern Times DLC. Unlike the ordinary Bank the National Bank allows for tourists to use it without the need of the “Off-Shore accounts” mode being active. Instead your National Bank can activate Investment Banking, which generates income based on how many people in the area have wages of 20 USD and above. It might seem like a lot but during one of my playthroughts (on the highest difficulty Economy setting) I had a minimum wage of 20 USD, so the building was spitting out money faster than I could count it. Alright, it’s not *that* good, but since the National Bank can be used by Tourists at the same time it is a very useful addition to your Modern Economy.

Media Buildings – Every single Media Building can have a work Mode that generates a profit. Placed in a deep urban area such buildings will not only still increase the local liberty but also provide the money to cover their own expenses. Best case scenario? They do not only cover their expenses but also give you a profit, which is not hard, at all. As long as they are placed near urban centers they will make money, and if they are very close to each other you can then build Advertisement Companies near them as well.

Stock Exchange - Now, what is one of the key elements of any modern capitalist economy? Private Investments. The Stock Exchange allows for outside investors to build all manner of buildings on your island. As long as the building works as is expected (a factory gets its resources, power and/or clients) you will get monthly rent for that building. However, if a building is unable to function it will eventually go bankrupt (also, if a building fails to generate a profit it will also shut down). Certain problems appear with what Investors expect will make good money on your island. The Chinese will try to build structures producing cheap goods or materials. The problem with that? They are stealing your super valuable resources and selling them on their own, while giving your citizens very low wages. The Americans are very open to Service based buildings, too much in fact. During one playthrough the Americans built Night Club after Night Club on my island. All of them eventually went bust, but while they lasted I still got my money’s worth. They will also provide decent wages. Nothing too fancy, but on the level. The Middle East offers good money for your workers and (according to my own personal opinion) the most plausible investment suggestions. Thanks to them I had a number of high quality  Residential buildings, and I even allowed them to build an Oil Well on my Island, since the rent offered was high.


About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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