WASHINGTON — Since the beginning of the year, the defense stocks of America's top five arms producers — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman — have risen substantially. Last month, Bloomberg reported that "the biggest U.S. defense companies are trading at record prices as shareholders reap rewards from escalating military conflicts around the world."
These conflicts include the Afghanistan War, NATO's arms buildup to monitor Russia in Ukraine, military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and armaments for governments wishing to suppress internal dissent.
Arms contractors are "trying to exploit the crisis," said William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, a Washington-based think tank aimed at addressing war, corruption, inequality and climate change. It appears they're succeeding this regard, as investors are greedily buying up stocks of weapons manufacturers. For example, Lockheed Martin's share prices have risen from $146 a share at the beginning of the year to $174 today.
"Wall Street's betting that this war's going to go on for awhile, and that the Pentagon is going to get rid of budget cuts," Hartung said of the conflict with ISIS.