Abstract: In trying to understand resource economies, the article develops the idea of local models. A local model, in contrast to a universal model, is sensitive to the peculiarities of geographical context. Those peculiarities, rather than being reduced to some higher order of logic as in universal models, are kept intact, forming the very basis of understanding. Our approach to local modeling draws specifically on institutional economics. That tradition makes the argument that the economy is shaped by various institutions (not all of which are economic), which are continually changing and which take on different constellations in different places. By setting out a grid of central institutions operating in resource economies, and comparatively using the examples of the forest economies of British Columbia, Canada, North Island, New Zealand, and Tasmania, Australia, the article constructs three local models. Each has the same constituent elements, but how they are related and what eventuates are peculiar to the specific region.