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Stock Market Ignores Bin Laden Killing

Publication Date: 
May 05, 2011
San Francisco Chronicle
Kathleen Pender

Professor Allen Weiner is quoted by Kathleen Pender of the San Francisco Chronicle on the long and short-term impact of Osama bin Laden's death on the financial markets.

The killing of Osama bin Laden is one of the biggest stories of the year, but unlike most earth-shaking events, it produced nary a ripple in the financial markets.

After the news broke Sunday night, the Dow Jones industrial average dipped just 3 points on Monday and rose less than 1 point on Tuesday. It dropped almost 84 points Wednesday, but that was attributed to weaker-than-expected jobs and economic reports. The bond market has also been quiet.


"His killing is really significant in terms of our ability to pursue a long-term strategy in countering terrorism and maybe trying to stabilize Afghanistan," says Allen Weiner, director of Stanford's international law program. "But the short-term impact is likely to be negligible or counterproductive. Everyone is concerned about a spike in activity because of the franchising of terrorism." By that he means the al Qaeda brand has opened outlets in Mesopotamia, the Arabia Peninsula and elsewhere.

Weiner says the death of terrorism's symbolic leader "should make us more optimistic about Afghanistan," where mid-level Taliban commanders are said to be growing weary of fighting and might be looking for a way out. That "could have some helpful budget implications, but it's a couple years down the road."


Weiner says the military has been trying to move in this direction for years. "The secretary of defense is trying to kill large weapons-procurement programs, but Congress insists on keeping them because they are huge jobs programs," he says.