HomeEconomic IndicatorInvestors pay little attention to long-lasting impact of Middle East conflict, says...

Investors pay little attention to long-lasting impact of Middle East conflict, says McGeever.

Investors Remain Unfazed by Middle East Conflict: Will This Time Be Different?

Investors’ Response to Middle East Conflict

For the past 20 years, global investors have shown resilience in the face of conflagrations and wars in the Middle East. These conflicts, unless they escalate and involve multiple countries, have had minimal impact on investors’ risk appetite and investment strategies. While the human tragedy dominates headlines, its influence on global markets has historically been short-lived.

Israel-Palestinian Conflict: A Familiar Pattern

The Israel-Palestinian conflict has experienced several flashpoints over the decades that have threatened to spill beyond borders. However, the broader drivers such as the global economic cycle and U.S. monetary policy tend to outweigh the regional conflicts. Past episodes, including the Lebanon War in 2006 and the Gaza Wars of 2008-09 and 2014, did not trigger a lasting “flight to safety” from investors.

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Measured Market Reaction

As the recent conflict escalates, investors seem to be mindful of historical patterns. Despite the escalating violence and the potential for a wider conflict, stocks are higher compared to pre-conflict levels, and traditional safe-haven assets like sovereign bonds have seen a decrease in demand. Analysts at Barclays suggest that the market reaction has been “measured” and the overall impact should remain limited.

Gold’s Temporary Surge

Gold, often considered a safe-haven asset during times of geopolitical turmoil, has seen a temporary surge, reaching a three-month high. However, history suggests that this surge may not be sustained. During the Lebanon War in 2006, gold initially spiked but ended up lower than its pre-war value. Similarly, during the 2014 Gaza War, gold also experienced a temporary increase before declining. Factors like high opportunity cost and inflation-adjusted real rates indicate that cash may be a more favorable investment.

Other Safe-Haven Currencies and Oil

Traditional safe-haven currencies like the dollar, Swiss franc, and Japanese yen have not shown significant movement during past conflicts. Additionally, the impact on oil prices has been limited unless there is a dramatic escalation with unforeseen consequences. As a result, investors may be tempted to maintain their current investment strategies and wait for further developments.

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The Importance of Hedging

While investors may choose to stay calm, it’s important to consider the potential risks of a larger-scale conflict. Hedging energy exposure can help mitigate downside risks, even if it means missing out on short-term gains. Ignoring geopolitical factors can be risky, as unforeseen events can have a significant impact on financial markets.

As the conflict in the Middle East unfolds, investors must closely monitor the situation and make informed decisions. While historical patterns provide some guidance, it’s crucial to remain adaptable and prepared for potential changes in the global market landscape.

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