What a third world war would mean for investors (The Economist – October 30, 2023)


Global conflicts have a habit of sneaking up on money-managers

Europe had been moving towards the slaughterhouse for years, and by 1914 a conflict was all but inevitable—that, at least, is the argument often made in hindsight. Yet at the time, as Niall Ferguson, a historian, noted in a paper published in 2008, it did not feel that way to investors.

For them, the first world war came as a shock. Until the week before it erupted, prices in the bond, currency and money markets barely budged. Then all hell broke loose. “The City has seen in a flash the meaning of war,” wrote this newspaper on August 1st 1914.

Could financial markets once again be underpricing the risk of a global conflict? In the nightmare scenario, the descent into a third world war began two years ago, as Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border. Today Israel’s battle against Hamas has the frightening potential to spill across its borders.

American military support is crucial to both Ukraine and Israel, and in Iraq and Syria the superpower’s bases have come under fire, probably from proxies of Iran. Should China decide it is time to take advantage of a distracted superpower and invade Taiwan, America could all too easily end up being drawn into three wars at once. The rest of the world risks those wars interlocking and turning into something even more devastating.

For the rest of this article: https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2023/10/30/what-a-third-world-war-would-mean-for-investors?utm_content=article-link-3&etear=nl_today_3&utm_campaign=r.the-economist-today&utm_medium=email.internal-newsletter.np&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=10/30/2023&utm_id=1804422