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Relative to macroeconomic indicators such as GDP, this measure can address concerns about the direction of causality, simply because the high frequency of stock market data leaves less time for other, slower-moving, factors to have an impact. Because stock market valuations capture investors’ expectations about the future return of stocks, they also provide valuable insight into the future economic outlook. We examine 156 unrest events in 72 countries and find that stock market returns drop 1.4 percentage points on average after major unrest events (Barrett and others 2021b). There is a further subtle point in this finding: in countries with more open and democratic institutions, unrest events have a negligible impact on stock market returns. But in countries with more authoritarian regimes, the effect is large and negative: on average, stock market returns fall 2 percent within three days and about 4 percent in the following month. This finding on the role of institutions is echoed in the research on growth mentioned earlier, which finds that stronger rule of law dampens the adverse effect of unrest on GDP. Stock market data offer further clues about how unrest affects the economic outlook because the volume of shares traded increases sharply following unrest events. Because more trades occur when investors disagree on the value of an asset, higher trading volume typically reflects more uncertainty over the outlook. The evidence thus points to an indirect information channel rather than direct disruption to economic activity. In other words, in countries with high standards of governance, social unrest does not lead to more disagreement and uncertainty about the economic outlook in countries with open institutions, which perhaps reflects the ability to reconcile divergent opinions and find compromises. This flexibility may be missing in more authoritarian systems. It is also timely to note that history is replete with examples of epidemics subverting social order and ultimately causing social unrest—the Plague of Justinian, the Black Death, and the 1830s cholera pandemic, to name just a few. One possible reason is that an epidemic can reveal or aggravate preexisting fault lines in society, such as inadequate social safety nets or a perception of government incompetence. It can also lead to a widening divide among different ethnic or religious groups or economic classes. Consistent with this notion of the social scarring effect of epidemics, we find that countries with more frequent and severe epidemics also experienced more unrest on average (Barrett and Chen 2021a). On the other hand, social scarring in the form of unrest may not show up quickly. During and in the immediate aftermath of an epidemic, mitigating factors may prevail.


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But in the Methow Valley, which is also a tourism reliant region, two nearby fires have prompted an evacuation in several towns. The mayor of Winthrop, Wash., called the fires “ a season-ending event for tourism ” at a community meeting in July. After Sun Mountain Lodge evacuated its current guests, the resort called those with upcoming reservations to encourage them to rebook for later in the year and blacked out availability online through Aug. 31. The resort is temporarily closed. In Montana, Maria Caputo, the manager of Lamplighter Cabin & Suites in the state’s capital of Helena, said that she’s had numerous guests call to cancel their reservations this month because of the smoke. “We’re honest with them,” Ms. Caputo said. “I don’t want people to come best site here and have unhealthy situations for their breathing or anything.” Ms. Caputo added that the people who do make it are surprised by the situation: The smoke is keeping most people indoors, and nearby mountains are no longer visible. “I don’t think that they’re realizing how serious the fires are and how smoky it is until they get here or are flying in,” said Ms. Caputo. Some tourism officials say that visitors are undeterred by the fires. Jeremy Sage, who leads the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research , said that visitors are “resilient,” and have simply altered their plans according to air quality and smoke conditions. He adds that it’s also a matter of educating tourists about the vastness of the state and the other places in Montana they can visit. The fires, smoke and extreme temperatures can also extend beyond the wilderness, Dr. Dahl, the climate scientist, said. The heat could affect places like Disneyland, she said, which “draws a huge number of tourists every year and is excruciatingly hot.” And a trip to enjoy the view from the Golden site here Gate Bridge can be ruined by smoke conditions.