Few Financial Fall-Out Shelters If Russia Invades Ukraine
Perhaps nothing says as emphatically that market valuations are divorced from reality as the fact that equity and bond markets are essentially ignoring the increasing risk that Russia invades Ukraine. Investors have grown used to shrugging off geopolitical risks – see just the brief chills after Russia’s previous invasions of Crimea and Georgia as cases in point. But this time is different because this time Ukraine is a critical link in Europe’s energy supply, macroeconomic stress in Europe will have immediate global repercussions, and Vladimir Putin is making it more than clear that this time he’s not just playing around with minor nations he thinks of as vassal states. This time, he will go to the economic map if he believes the Western response to his invasion might pose too much risk to Russia’s economy and his popularity and there’s no reason to doubt him. As a result, I hope Treasury and the Fed are keeping a careful eye on the Treasury market and global payment system, not to mention on the cyber-security on which core market infrastructure rests. The threat is all too real.