There have been numerous stories, particularly during the lengthy presidential campaign, about Donald Trump not paying contractors fully for their work. Given the politically-charged nature of a presidential campaign, pulling stories like these from a candidate's past is nothing new, however these particular stories highlight an exploit of our economic system not often discussed.
Donald Trump, in as far as these stories are true, implicitly used sequential game theory's first-mover advantage to exploit a weakness that our economy has, but our economic theory rarely incorporates: enforcing broken contracts is costly. The story goes that Trump hired a small business to do some work for him, the small business did the work, but Trump would not pay the agreed amount. The small business would have sought justice for this broken contract, however the legal fees and time were likely to outweigh or offset most, if not all, of the compensation. The fact that enforcing the rules, particularly against the very wealthy, is quite costly is of course public information that Trump and his team know well and could potentially use to their advantage. This takes on a very classic form of a sequential game:
We can see that by making rejecting the low offer and going to court very costly, Trump can force the Small Business between choosing a payoff of 2, over a payoff of 1, even though they were originally owed a payoff 4. If Trump then knows they will accept his low offer always, he can choose a payoff of 6 as opposed to the fair-price payoff of 4. We can see here that Trump has first-mover advantage, because by acting first he is able to force play down the side of the tree that would maximize his payoffs after anticipating the future actions of his opponent.
Obviously there are simple payoffs here, but the logic extends to a lot of 'bullying via the justice system' type cases that are so often in the news. It is important to not be naive in our understanding of transactions, because while there may have been a mutually beneficial transaction available in a situation like this, the reality often looks like preying on the weak. We could say that Trump still should have paid in full, but when we allow the rules of the game to be such that there are self-interested options available to people, it should not be surprising when some take them.
Unfortunately there aren't clear-cut solutions to avoiding this type of game from emerging, but certainly any efforts to make legal costs lower for the little guy, would likely make it more difficult to exert this type of pressure.