One of the challenges of managing money is the (increasingly-frequent) need to translate non-financial tragedies into action to protect clients and, yes, profit from the broader world’s troubles.
So while most people react to events in Paris with stunned sympathy and/or impotent rage, the financial community is deciding what to buy and sell. And right now it looks like “sell” is winning.
Stock market futures pointed to falls in Asia, Europe and the US, as bourses across the Middle East recoiled on Sunday amid warnings that the terrorist attacks in Paris could spark a renewed bout of volatility.
TheDubai stock market fell 3.7pc in afternoon trading on Sunday to a fresh 2015 low, while stocks in Saudi Arabia lost 2.6pc and Egypt’s benchmark index dropped to a two-year low. Markets in Kuwait and Bahrain also fell.
Sustained oil price weakness has already prompted concerns about the region’s outlook.
Analysts said the attack was likely to hit tourism in Paris, which could have consequences for the rest of France and Europe.
“The truly awful events in Paris could certainly have a significant negative impact on consumer confidence in the near term at least,” said Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight.
“There could also be an adverse impact on tourism in some European countries where people think attacks are most likely to occur – not just in France…Volatility should rise for Europe and for the Middle East.”
Several things to consider going into next week:
First, the global equity markets were already correcting before the Paris attacks. Last week was the worst for US stocks since August, and the plunging price of oil combined with truly horrible numbers from major retail chains pointed towards more volatility in any event.
Second, in recent years real-world events have not driven the financial markets. Instead, the major central banks’ reactions to events have become the key indicator for most traders. So Europe’s turmoil might, perversely, be applauded by the markets if it ends the Fed’s rate hike delusion and spurs the ECB to even more amazing feats of debt monetization. Crazy, but entirely possible in today’s world.
And finally, this is the beginning rather than the end of a long process. The political/financial implications of Europe’s immigration debacle and America’s Middle East mess will take years to unfold. Elections are held at different times in different places, so the anti-immigration, anti-austerity, anti-euro tide won’t fully come in until 2017 or beyond. In other words, lots more brutal Mondays to look forward to.
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