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With the Trump administration, Turkish dictatorship, North Korean nuclear weapons, and general tension around the world, we might think that there is a likelihood of something like a world war happening soon. If this were the case, and someone wished to profit from such a situation, which stock or commodities would be the best short (or invest in)?

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 as I think this is an interesting thought experiment. There's a real risk that you'd never be able to cash out. In that case, you'd do better to invest in bottled water and weapons. $\endgroup$ – paj28 Apr 17 '17 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ The consequences of a nuclear conflict are very different than one involving conventional weapons. You would have a hard time describing a scenario for World War III that did not end up very badly. You would need to have a very specific scenario. $\endgroup$ – Brian Romanchuk Apr 18 '17 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ I voted to close because this question is more an open-ended debate with no definite answers. It's not really suitable for StackExchange. $\endgroup$ – Kenny LJ Jun 19 '17 at 3:46
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Gold is generally the best option for expected political and economic strife as it generally reacts inversely with the markets. Here's a good article on the connection between war and the value of gold.

Another thought would be to buy stock in companies involved in the defense industry. Raytheon, Boeing, Northorp Grumman all jump during wartime due to the anticipation for more demand for weapons production.

An even safer bet would be to buy stocks in metal production such as steel given that in a wartime economy demand for these goods spikes as production of ships and vehicles will increase for a period of time.

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If you're not looking exclusively at purchasing real assets, then taking a long position in an ETF/ETN tracking the volatility index could be a great move. Symbols include UVXY or VIXY. Remember that you are greatly exposed to Counterparty Risk on assets of this type.

Technical note: these assets don't track the VIX directly, rather they are based on an index of a rolling 30-day VIX futures positions.

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