J'Accuse! Antisemitism and Financial Markets in the Time of the Dreyfus Affair
Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers
Paris : Département d'économie de Sciences Po
Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers : 2020-08
Antisemitism, Financial Markets, Discrimination
This paper studies discrimination in financial markets in the context of the “Dreyfus Affair” in 19th century France. The Affair originated from the wrongful conviction of a Jewish officer, Alfred Dreyfus, and revealed the depth of antisemitism in French society. We show that firms with Jewish board members experienced abnormal stock returns after several salient events of the Affair. However, in the long run, these firms experienced higher returns during the media campaign sparked by J’Accuse...!, a famous editorial that paved the way for Dreyfus’ rehabilitation. Our preferred interpretation is that media coverage of the Affair changed beliefs among antisemitic investors, allowing those who bet on Jewish-connected firms to capture excess returns through arbitrage. Our findings provide novel evidence on the existence of rents from discrimination and the economic impacts of antisemitism.