This morning, while walking to work, I noticed the following newspaper headlines displayed prominently outside a newsagent Stunned silence as market plummets
and We have the green light for war - PM
Using the traditional philosophical method of taking two things that you notice at the same time and constructing a theory from thin air to explain how the two of them are inextricably linked, I'd like to present you with a conspiracy theory:
The reason why the US agreed to go to the UN was not because they wanted other countries on-board for any attack, but because it was the best way to deflate a dangerously overheated stock-market.
Since the end of the .com boom (which gave me a fair amount of schadenfreude) the market has certainly deflated from its ridiculous heights, but numerous studies had shown that it was still far too high - the ratio of company worth to stock price was still badly out of whack and there was no way that there was going to be a general recovery when stock prices were doomed to fall back to more reasonable levels.
Now, there were two ways this could happen - gently, over a long period of time, as people slowly came to the realisation that the stock they had just wasn't worth that much, or in a short sharp shock, as other forces smacked the market downward. While the first method has certain plus-points (it feels less painful on a short term basis), the slow drag puts the economy in a drag for much longer and postpones any kind of economic recovery. On the other hand, the short sharp shock is certainly very painful ( companies go out of business very abruptly, unemployment rises, it's more obvious to the average person that there's a problem), but as the companies that go under are the ones that were actually inefficient and weren't making money anyway, it's actualyl a good thing for the economy that they do.
In any case, by stretching out the pre-war process for a few months, Bush corrects
the stock market, puts the economy in the right place for a recovery and also has the time to get a better feel for what the country wants. If there is a war, this will boost the economy and if there isn't, the relief will still buoy things up. Either way round he gets kudos for a more measured decision and any recovery of the economy will pretty much erase the memories of stock-market falls.