Russia Invades Ukraine and Overthrows The Geopolitical Order: What Are the Financial Consequences?

Well, the Olympics ended on the 20th and, as if on cue, Putin went from "jaw, jaw" to "war war" overnight.

The Russian autocrat graduated from threats and boasts to an invasion of Ukrainian sovereign territory early in the morning on Thursday and Russian armed forces are now fighting to occupy the country.

It was an incredible act and a pathetically cowardly one. It should also prove to be a deeply irrational one, though only time will tell.

For now, Vladimir Putin accomplished two feats this past week:

He recognized the two separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and then proceeded to launch a full blown invasion of an peaceful and independent neighboring European country.

In doing so, the Russian leader has created a humanitarian crisis and overturned the prevailing geopolitical order in one fell swoop.

It was a historic moment and a historically awful one.

There are a few obvious consequences to keep in mind.

(Each one of these could - and should! - have a full edition devoted to it. We tackle two in depth below but we will hopefully return to others in the coming weeks. Please email your preferences, if any, to

  • First and most unfortunately, many people will be killed. Too many of them will be innocent civilians. That is not just very regrettable. It is monstrous. War is still bad and this seems like, even by the pisspoor standards of modern conflict, a particularly meaningless contest.

  • Now that he has violated modern norms and defied Western expectations, no one thinks Vladimir Putin will stop with Ukraine. A chunk of the Baltics? The Suwalski gap? Moldova? We have no idea but we have appeased a tyrant for too long and he is now emboldened. Expecting him to stop here will be a non starter.

  • Next up, NATO is having itself a (belated) renaissance. Nothing has underlined the utility of the alliance more than Putin's revanchism. The Russian leader is, ironically, the greatest 21st century salesman NATO has ever had. Will Finland and Sweden join? Will Western Europe actually meet their NATO commitments? Will significant numbers of US troops and weapons be deployed to Eastern Europe? All of these scenarios are possible and more.

  • Europe's energy dependence on Russia supply has been cruelly and completely exposed for the complete strategic foolishness it has always been. Conversely, the new US role as a global energy exporter and superpower has been enhanced and its strategic importance is now likely assured, regardless of climate policy.

  • The US and Western world are officially weaponizing the financial system against our new clear and present enemy. Trade, banking, monetary policy, the US Dollar, all are being deployed against the predatory Russian state.

  • The ultimate "frenemy" partnership between China and Russia will deepen out of necessity. Russia will become far more dependent on Chinese economic, strategic and political support.

What are the takeaways from these points:

  • Defense spending will rise significantly. And not just in NATO. There are defense sector ETFs you can purchase. Please be careful about what they contain and also their fees.

  • More defense spending will mean more budgetary borrowing. Fiscal restraint is once again being thrown out the window. This means more bonds, higher deficits and also likely, higher taxes down the road. Update your personal models.

  • There will be new and tough sanctions which will add complexity to the global financial and trade system. Financial decoupling and deglobalization will continue to gather momentum. This means less economic growth and less interdependence.

  • The US will ship more energy to Europe and new liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities will be built in Western Europe. Because they will compete with Asia, Europeans will continue to pay elevated prices though the money will flow to the US rather than Russia. These capital flows will hopefully serve as the glue to cement a deeper - and fairer - military and economic relationship between the US and the EU.

  • Less certain: "Remember Ukraine" will become more than a bumper sticker or a hashtag. Hopefully, this terrible war will serve as a turning point for an increasingly decadent Western society and its constant foolish belief that we can accomplish hard things without sacrificing anything in return.

If this is what is happening in Eastern Europe and its implications around the world, what will this war mean more immediately for financial markets and some of the more important themes raised in this newsletter.


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    2022 Theme: Ukraine Accelerates The End Of The Era Of Cheap Energy.


    2022 Theme: Persistent & Rising Rental Inflation