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

  • Waldenström, Daniel


    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

  • Frey, Bruno S.

    (University of Zürich)

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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Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 676.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 06 Nov 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0676
Contact details of provider: Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
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  1. Bruno S. Frey & Marcel Kucher, . "History as Reflected in Capital Markets: The Case of World War II," IEW - Working Papers 002, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Rigobon, Roberto & Sack, Brian, 2005. "The effects of war risk on US financial markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1769-1789, July.
  3. Jushan Bai & Pierre Perron, 1998. "Estimating and Testing Linear Models with Multiple Structural Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(1), pages 47-78, January.
  4. Kristen L. Willard & Timothy W. Guinnane & Harvey S. Rosen, 1995. "Turning Points in the Civil War: Views from the Greenback Market," NBER Working Papers 5381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kim Oosterlinck, 2003. "The Bond Market and the Legitimacy of Vichy France," Working Papers CEB 03-003.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  6. Paye, Bradley S. & Timmermann, Allan, 2006. "Instability of return prediction models," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 274-315, June.
  7. Pierre Perron, 2005. "Dealing with Structural Breaks," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2005-017, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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