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What Do Financial Markets Think of War in Iraq?

Author

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  • Andrew Leigh
  • Justin Wolfers
  • Eric Zitzewitz

Abstract

We analyze financial market data in order to produce an ex-ante assessment of the economic consequences of war with Iraq. The novel feature of our analysis derives from the existence of a market for Saddam Securities,' a new future traded on an online betting exchange that pays only if Saddam Hussein is ousted. A variety of tests suggest that this future's price provides a plausible estimate of the probability of war. The spot oil price has moved closely with the Saddam Security, suggesting that war raises oil prices by around $10 per barrel. Futures prices imply that markets expect these large immediate disruptions to dissipate quickly, with prices returning to pre-war levels within about a year and a half. Evidence on the long-run effects is fragile, and while prices are probably expected to fall a little as a result of war, any oil dividend' will be minimal. We find large effects in equity markets: and war lowers the value of U.S. equities by around 15 percent. This effect is concentrated in the consumer discretionary sector, airlines and IT; the prospect of war bolsters the gold and energy sectors. Analyzing option prices, we find that the large estimated average effects of war reflect the market pricing in a range of different scenarios - a 70 percent probability that it will lead to market declines of 0 to 15 percent, a 20 percent chance of 15 to 30 percent declines, and a 10 percent risk of a fall in excess of 30 percent. Across countries, the most extreme effects are on the stock markets of Turkey, Israel, and several European nations. Countries that are highly enmeshed in the world economy, or net oil importers, are most likely to experience adverse effects from war.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Leigh & Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2003. "What Do Financial Markets Think of War in Iraq?," NBER Working Papers 9587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9587
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    Cited by:

    1. Snowberg, Erik & Wolfers, Justin & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2013. "Prediction Markets for Economic Forecasting," Handbook of Economic Forecasting, Elsevier.
    2. Sutsarun Lumiajiak & Sirimon Treepongkaruna & Marvin Wee & Robert Brooks, 2014. "Thai Financial Markets and Political Change," Journal of Financial Management, Markets and Institutions, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 5-26, July.
    3. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2006. "Five Open Questions About Prediction Markets," NBER Working Papers 12060, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2006. "Interpreting prediction market prices as probabilities," Working Paper Series 2006-11, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    5. 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.
    6. 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, April.
    7. Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2004. "Prediction Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 107-126, Spring.
    8. Erik Snowberg & Justin Wolfers & Eric Zitzewitz, 2011. "How Prediction Markets can Save Event Studies," CAMA Working Papers 2011-07, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    9. repec:eee:eneeco:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:494-510 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:wsi:qjfxxx:v:02:y:2012:i:03:n:s2010139212500139 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Diebold, Francis X. & Yilmaz, Kamil, 2012. "Better to give than to receive: Predictive directional measurement of volatility spillovers," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 57-66.
    12. Bülent Temel, "undated". "From Value to Power: The Rise of Oil as a Political Economic Commodity," Working Papers 2012/52, Turkish Economic Association.
    13. Knight*, Brian, 2007. "Are policy platforms capitalized into equity prices? Evidence from the Bush/Gore 2000 Presidential Election," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 389-409, February.
    14. Paul W. Rhode & Koleman S. Strumpf, 2004. "Historical Presidential Betting Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(2), pages 127-141, Spring.
    15. Manski, Charles F., 2006. "Interpreting the predictions of prediction markets," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 425-429, June.
    16. Maghyereh, A., 2004. "Oil Price Shocks and Emerging Stock Markets: A Generalized VAR Approach," International Journal of Applied Econometrics and Quantitative Studies, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 1(2), pages 27-40.
    17. Blix Grimaldi, Marianna, 2011. "Up for count? Central bank words and financial stress," Working Paper Series 252, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    18. Driesprong, G. & Jacobsen, B. & Maat, B., 2003. "Striking Oil: Another Puzzle," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2003-082-F&A, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    19. Al-Ississ Mohamad, 2015. "The Cross-Border Impact of Political Violence," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 21(2), pages 239-272, April.
    20. Abdelbaki, Hisham, 2013. "The Impact of Arab Spring on Stock Market Performance," MPRA Paper 54814, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E6 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets

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