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Electoral uncertainty and financial volatility: Evidence from two‐round presidential races in emerging markets

Daniel Carnahan and Sebastian Saiegh

Economics and Politics, 2021, vol. 33, issue 1, 109-132

Abstract: We study how the predictability and the decisiveness of electoral outcomes affect financial volatility. We argue that traders’ optimal investment strategies depend on their ability to make accurate electoral forecasts and the prospective losses associated with placing a bet on the wrong candidate. Using a triple difference‐in‐difference approach and data from two‐round presidential elections in five Latin American countries between 1999 and 2018, we find that financial volatility is greatest in the days immediately following unpredictable, decisive, elections. Postelectoral volatility also occurs following predictable, indecisive elections. The effect of learning the identity of the winning candidate on financial volatility is null when the election is unpredictable and indecisive, as well as when the election is decisive, but the outcome is predictable. These findings offer insights into investors seeking to hedge price risk around elections. They also have important implications regarding the relationship between public opinion polls and postelectoral financial volatility.

Date: 2021
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