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Ukraine, Russia, and the US Markets

03/11/2014 9:00 am EST


Marvin Appel

President, Signalert Asset Management LLC


Although the situation in Ukraine is very worrisome from a humanitarian perspective, trouble in Ukraine does not mean trouble for investors, observes Dr. Marvin Appel, editor of Systems & Forecasts.

Indeed, history suggests that investors in the US stock market need not fear major consequences.

In order to gain perspective, I plotted the percentage change in the S&P 500 Index (SPX) (price-only), starting three months before through three months after prior occasions when Russia or the Soviet Union invaded neighboring countries.

Such events occurred in Georgia in 2008, Afghanistan in 1979, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Hungary in 1956. What we have seen is that there is no consistent association between the start of an invasion and a bear market.

Although the two-day war between Russia and Georgia, in August 2008, did occur in the middle of a major market decline that resulted from the bursting housing bubble in the US, the war itself occurred during the only stable part of 2008.

Soviet invasions in Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia would actually have been good buying opportunities.

The invasion of Hungary in October 1956 occurred in the middle of a 13% market correction that ran from July 1956-February 1957.

The entire 1956-1957 period was unusually volatile by the standards of the 1950s, with the market ultimately hitting bottom around October 1957, coincidentally, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and the US seemed at greatest disadvantage in the Cold War.

Bottom line: Military campaigns by Russia or the Soviet Union after World War II have not had major impacts on the S&P 500 Index, so current events in Ukraine should not guide your market timing, except maybe by generating opportunities for bottom fishing.

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