The Impact of the 2019 Australian Bushfire: Financial Markets, Air Pollution, and Economic Effects

Publication Name

Review of Pacific Basin Financial Markets and Policies


Our study investigates the consequences of the 2019 Australian bushfire regarding its financial, economic, and environmental effects. Using an augmented version of the event study methodology, we show that depressed investors' mood leads to a countrywide financial impact, which tends to be long-lasting. On the other hand, regional effects are self-correcting, bringing financial valuations back to their fundamental values. We observe that polluting firms experience an increase in their stock market returns during bushfire seasons- consistent with the theory of increased risk premiums in times of uncertainty. Regarding economic activity, we confirm that the countrywide tourism sector, which employs a significant fraction of Australia's labor force, continues to be severely impaired by regional fires. Unlike previous studies in finance, we demonstrate that bushfires have a substantial and harmful impact on Australia's air quality. The battery of robustness tests (range of event windows, controlling for information leakage, and changing macroeconomic conditions) validates our findings.

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