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Detecting Illegal Arms Trade

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  • Stefano DellaVigna
  • Eliana La Ferrara

Abstract

Illegal arms are responsible for thousands of deaths in civil wars every year. Yet, their trade is very hard to detect. We propose a method to statistically detect illegal arms trade based on the investor knowledge embedded in financial markets. We focus on eight countries under UN arms embargo in the period 1990-2005, and analyze eighteen events during the embargo that suddenly increase or decrease conflict intensity. If the weapon-making companies are not trading or are trading legally, an event worsening the hostilities should not affect their stock prices or affect them adversely, since it delays the removal of the embargo. Conversely, if the companies are trading illegally, the event may increase stock prices, since it increases the demand for illegal weapons. We detect no significant effect overall. However, we find a large and significant positive reaction for companies head-quartered in countries where the legal and reputation costs of illegal trades are likely to be lower. We identify such countries using measures of corruption and transparency in arms trade. We also suggest a method to detect potential embargo violations based on stock reactions by individual companies, including chains of reactions. The presumed violations are higher for conflicts with more UN investigations and for companies with more Internet stories regarding embargo.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano DellaVigna & Eliana La Ferrara, 2007. "Detecting Illegal Arms Trade," NBER Working Papers 13355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13355
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    Cited by:

    1. Seitz, William Hutchins, 2016. "Stock market reactions to conflict diamond trading restrictions and controversies," Business and Politics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(01), pages 63-84, April.
    2. Paul Collier, 2011. "Prevention of Threats and Emergency Responses: Challenges to Policy Making," Chapters,in: Security and Development, chapter 4 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    4. Brian Knight, 2013. "State Gun Policy and Cross-State Externalities: Evidence from Crime Gun Tracing," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 200-229, November.
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    6. François-Xavier Delaloye & Michel Habib & Alexandre Ziegler, 2012. "Swiss banking secrecy: the stock market evidence," Financial Markets and Portfolio Management, Springer;Swiss Society for Financial Market Research, vol. 26(1), pages 143-176, March.
    7. Laurent Bouton & Paola Conconi & Francisco Pino & Maurizio Zanardi, 2013. "Guns and Votes," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2013-39, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
      • Laurent Bouton & Paola Conconi & Francisco Pino & Maurizio Zanardi, 2014. "Guns and Votes," NBER Working Papers 20253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Laurent Bouton & Paola Conconi & Francisco Pino & Maurizio Zanardi, 2013. "Guns and votes," Working Papers 43819146, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
      • Bouton, Laurent & Conconi, Paola & Pino, Francisco & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2013. "Guns and Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 9726, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Thushyanthan Baskaran & Zohal Hessami, 2017. "Political alignment and intergovernmental transfers in parliamentary systems: evidence from Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 171(1), pages 75-98, April.
    9. Brollo, Fernanda & Troiano, Ugo, 2016. "What happens when a woman wins an election? Evidence from close races in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 28-45.
    10. Alasdair Brown & Fuyu Yang, 2014. "Have Betting Exchanges Corrupted Horse Racing?," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 066, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
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    12. Helmut Dietl & Markus Lang & Stephan Werner, 2008. "Corruption in Professional Sumo: An Update on Duggan and Levitt's Study," Working Papers 0824, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU), revised Jun 2009.
    13. Lorenzo Rotunno & Pierre-Louis Vézina, 2017. "Israel’s open-secret trade," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 153(2), pages 233-248, May.
    14. Lee, Kangoh, 2015. "Federalism, guns, and jurisdictional gun policies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 141-153.
    15. Tandon, Sharad, 2012. "Economic reform, voting, and local political intervention: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 221-231.
    16. Janus, Thorsten, 2012. "Natural resource extraction and civil conflict," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 24-31.
    17. Ferrier, Peyton Michael, 2009. "The Economics of Agricultural and Wildlife Smuggling," Economic Research Report 55951, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    18. Marion, Justin & Muehlegger, Erich, 2007. "Measuring Illegal Activity and the Effects of Regulatory Innovation: A Study of Diesel Fuel Tax Evasion," Working Paper Series rwp07-026, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    19. Dina Mayzlin & Yaniv Dover & Judith A. Chevalier, 2012. "Promotional Reviews: An Empirical Investigation of Online Review Manipulation," NBER Working Papers 18340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Baskaran, Thushyanthan, 2014. "The political economy of special needs transfers: Evidence from Bavarian municipalities, 1993-2011," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 211, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    21. Baskaran, Thushyanthan, 2014. "Bailouts and austerity," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 212, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    22. Seitz William Hutchins, 2016. "Stock market reactions to conflict diamond trading restrictions and controversies," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 18(1), pages 63-84, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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