Biden punches back

President Biden unveiled new coordinated sanctions against Russia this afternoon that target Russia’s financial institutions and elite families.

  • “Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,” Biden said.

The big picture: The European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are joining the U.S. with similar actions as a “force multiplier,” according to the White House.

  • Russia’s largest financial institutionwill be cut off from the U.S. financial system, reports Axios’ Zachary Basu and Oriana Gonzalez.
  • “Full-blocking” sanctions will be imposed on four additional Russian banks.
  • New debt restrictions will be imposedon 13 Russian state-owned enterprises and entities that together hold nearly $1.4 trillion in assets.
  • The U.S. will impose sweeping export controlson technologies critical to the Russian defense sector and broader economy.
  • Seven Russian elites and their family memberswho hold some of the highest positions of power in the country will also be sanctioned.

The bottom line: Biden said there is “a complete rupture right now in U.S. and Russia relations” and that sanctioning Russian President Vladimir Putin himself remains on the table.

-Market swing brings more questions than answers

There are more questions than answers today. And while what happened in the markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is undoubtedly not the most important story, it reflects real concerns for many, Hope writes.

What they’re saying: Call volumes are up at Charles Schwab, chief investment strategist Liz Ann Sonders says, but the questions haven’t been all that different from ones that come up during other times of uncertainty:

  • Do I need to be doing something different with my money? How long will this conflict impact markets? Will the Fed change its approach to raising interest rates this year? How much will gas prices go up?

The answer to all is an unsatisfying one: It depends.

  • “There’s no blanket, singular answer that’s appropriate for every investor,” Sonders says.
  • At the same time, panic should never be a strategy, whether it’s buying or selling, she adds.

How long the conflict could impact markets is not easily answered, and certainly not as simple as suggested by historical charts making the rounds today showing market performance after other major geopolitical events, Sonders says.

The big picture: Markets started to weaken a year ago, longer than a lot of people think.

What to watch: The Fed will likely raise rates as expected in March, but the likelihood that the bump will be 50 basis points may now be lower due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

  • “The Fed’s job is not to step in every time there’s financial market volatility, unless it threatens financial system stability,” Sonders says.

Hope’s thought bubble: The world is just barely emerging from the depths of the pandemic and is now faced with another potential existential crisis. Human resiliency will once again be tested.

Keep reading.

-Global ripples roundup

From energy prices to the cost of wheat, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had almost immediate ripple effects. Axios’ Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath rounds them up.

  1. Oil prices jumped above $100/barrelfor the first time since 2014, and European gas prices surged following the onset of the attack.

The big picture: Higher energy prices will impact everything from the cost of goods to prices at the gas pumps.

  • A price shock for natural gas in Europe is a particular concern. Russia is by far thelargest natural gas supplier to Europe.
  • What to watch:Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, slid back below $100 after President Biden signaled he didn’t intend to sanction Russian oil and gas. For now, the lifeblood of the Russian economy continues to flow largely unencumbered. Biden also wants Big Oil and Saudi Arabia to ramp up production and keep prices in check, Axios’ Hans Nichols reports.
  1. Biden announcedsevere new sanctionsincluding sweeping export controlsand a freeze on billions of dollars in Russian assets.
  • The new sanctions are coordinated with the G7 — countries that together make up 50% of the world’s GDP — and are designed to “maximize a long-term impact on Russia and to minimize the impact on the United States and our allies,” Biden said.
  • Details.
  1. Food prices faceadditional inflationrisk as the war threatens supplies of wheat in the region once known as the “breadbasket of Europe,” Axios’ Nathan Bomey reports.
  2. Moscow’s stock market fell 33%today, wiping out $200 billion in value. The government is tapping foreign reserves to stabilize the ruble.
  • In the U.S, the S&P 500 and Dow rebounded after dropping sharply this morning.


 Data: The New York Times; Mapbox/OSCE; Map: Will Chase and Jared Whalen/Axios

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