The Power of the Street: Evidence from the Arab Spring

Becker Brown Bag with Tarek Hassan

During Egypt’s Arab Spring, unprecedented popular mobilization and protests brought down Hosni Mubarak’s government and ushered in an era of competition between three groups: elites associated with Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), the military, and the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Street protests continued to play an important role during this power struggle. In a talk to MBA students, Tarek Hassan discussed work arguing that protests are associated with differential stock market returns for firms connected to the three groups; furthermore, he argued that activity on social media may have played an important role in mobilizing protesters, but did not have the same effect on markets that in-person protests did. According to his preferred interpretation, these events provide evidence that, under weak institutions, popular mobilization and protests have a role in moving and disrupting the marketplace. —