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Using Markets to Measure Pre-War Threat Assessments: The Nordic Countries facing World War II

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  • Daniel Waldenstrom
  • Bruno S. Frey

Abstract

Nordic historians have asserted for a long time that in the Nordic countries only few people, if any, perceived increased threats of war prior to the World War II outbreak. This would explain, and possibly excuse, why their governments did not mobilize their armies until it was too late. This paper questions this established notion by deriving new estimates of widely held war threat assessments from the fluctuations of sovereign market yields collected from all Nordic bond markets at this period. Our results show that the Nordic contemporaries indeed perceived significant war risk increases around the time of major war-related geopolitical events. While these findings hence question some, but not all, of the standard Nordic World War II historiography, they also demonstrate the value of analyzing historical market prices to reassess the often tacit views and opinions of large groups of people in the past.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2006-27.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2006-27

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Keywords: Structural breaks; Sovereign debt; Capital markets; Historiography; Cliometrics; World War II;

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  1. Brown, William O, Jr & Burdekin, Richard C K, 2002. "German Debt Traded in London during the Second World War: A British Perspective on Hitler," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 69(276), pages 655-69, November.
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  3. Willard, Kristen L & Guinnane, Timothy W & Rosen, Harvey S, 1996. "Turning Points in the Civil War: Views from the Greenback Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 1001-18, September.
  4. Frey, Bruno S. & Kucher, Marcel, 2000. "History as Reflected in Capital Markets: The Case of World War II," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(02), pages 468-496, June.
  5. Frey, Bruno S & Kucher, Marcel, 2001. "Wars and Markets: How Bond Values Reflect the Second World War," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(271), pages 317-333, August.
  6. Perron, P. & Bai, J., 1995. "Estimating and Testing Linear Models with Multiple Structural Changes," Cahiers de recherche 9552, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  7. Pierre Perron, 2005. "Dealing with Structural Breaks," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-017, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  8. Oosterlinck, Kim, 2003. "The bond market and the legitimacy of Vichy France," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 326-344, July.
  9. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2009. "Using Markets to Inform Policy: The Case of the Iraq War," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 76(302), pages 225-250, 04.
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Cited by:
  1. Waldenström, Daniel, 2006. "Why Does Sovereign Risk Differ for Domestic and Foreign Investors? Evidence from Scandinavia, 1938­­–1948," Working Paper Series 677, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

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