Ukraine and Russia: Developments and Implications

Updated: May 19

Guest Blog by Adrianne Yamaki

Hive Wealth | Blog | Ukraine and Russia: Developments and Implications

Dear Friends,

I have been closely following the developments between Ukraine and Russia. After spending time reflecting, I’d like to share some thoughts.

There are many lenses through which we can view and understand the war – politically, militarily, and economically. But above all else, the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine is a humanitarian crisis. On a personal note, I am heartened at the unification and solidarity not just of our international allies (this war has aligned us and Europe with a decisiveness we rarely see) but also of companies and individual citizens. Some of the actions are more symbolic than economically influential (Russia and Ukraine combined account for less than 1% of US imports and exports [1]), but this doesn’t decrease their importance in signaling to Putin our strident and collective outrage.

For this particular note, I set aside the humanitarian and political aspects of the war to focus on potential economic and market consequences.

Russia

The economic tools we and our allies have employed to attempt to halt the war are unprecedented and multi-faceted. We are choking off Russia’s resources and taking measures to seize up their financial systems. Russia depends heavily on energy exports, which many countries are no longer buying. Sooner or later, the expectation is that the heavy sanctions will cripple their economy. Whenever this war ends, if Russia moves further toward economic and political isolation, its long-term growth will likewise suffer. By most accounts, this war took Russian citizens by surprise, and their country more than others will likely face the largest short and long-term detriment to its economy.

USA and Europe

The US economy is much less dependent on Russian or Ukrainian trade than Europe. We are the largest consumer of oil globally but also the largest producer; in total, only 7% of our oil imports come from Russia.[2] Gas and other energy prices will likely go up, which will likely lead to higher inflation. On the positive side, due to COVID our household and company savings and balance sheets are strong, allowing us in the short run to absorb these increases (albeit unhappily). The Federal Reserve raised interest rates in March as expected, as a strong countermeasure against inflation, which had already been planned before the war began.


Europe is more dependent on Russia for oil and gas, commodities, and agricultural products, which again generally pushes up prices across industries and leads to higher inflation. In the short run, Europe will use fiscal stimulus in an attempt to control inflation. Over a longer term, I expect European companies to naturally decrease their reliance on Russian energy and goods, through increased domestic production, imports from other countries, or more efficient use of existing resources. Different sectors of the economy will experience different economic consequences - spending power is reduced in energy-consuming sectors but boosted in energy-producing ones.

Equity markets have historically powered through geopolitical events. [3]


Hive Wealth | Blog | Capital Group, Refinitiv Datastream, Standard & Poor’s. Chart shown on a logarithmic scale. Index levels reflect price returns, and do not include the impact of dividends. As of January 31, 2022



Framing the Data


My main takeaway is this: For purposes of understanding the war’s potential effects, we must separate:

(A) How the war may affect a country’s economy (i.e., global/country consequences) (B) From how it may affect earnings of public companies within the country (i.e., company-specific consequences) (C) From how it may affect index and stock prices within those countries (i.e., stock market consequences)

I emphasize: that these are not the same at all. There may be a short-term correlation among A, B, and C, but over time there is not. For example:

  • Strong companies with competitive advantages can outperform in a slow economy.

  • Poorly-run companies can die in a strong economy.

  • Companies headquartered in slow economies may enjoy high profitability because they derive their revenue from customers in faster-growing nations.

Bottom line: It is the company in which we invest, and which may lead us to become richer or poorer, not the country.

I don’t disagree with headlines stating that economic growth may slow in Europe and potentially the US. But there is much more subtlety in determining how this changes earnings expectations. I’ve created an example to illustrate the crucial nuance:

  1. Global: Economists estimate that the Ukraine war will cause global 2022 GDP to decline by 1%. [4]

  2. Country: Geographically narrowing this further, forecasts of 2022 UK growth have been decreased by 0.6%. [5]

  3. Index: The FTSE 100 (a subset of the London Stock Exchange) YTD has declined 6.9%. [6]

  4. Stock Price: And yet – Shell Oil PLC, a British company trading on the London Stock Exchange, YTD is up 7.8%. [7]

Summary

At the end of the day, public companies can and do move differently from country economies. My expectation is that markets in the short term will remain volatile because uncertainty leads to emotional discomfort and elevated activity. The shock of war is a useful reminder of why I typically recommend clients diversify not only amongst broad asset classes such as equities, real estate, bonds, and cash, but also amongst country domiciles, company sizes, and industries.

In my opinion, the most effective way to mitigate the risk of unexpected events (including natural disasters, pandemics, wars, and political instability) is through broad diversification, a flexible investment process, and structured financial planning.

Geopolitical risk is part of investing in global markets. Put into perspective, tensions tend to have a short-lived effect on markets. Sharp drops in the stock market are uncomfortable, but even given the current declines we are still well within normal market movements.

Opportunities

As markets move, different types of opportunities are created, such as:

  • Selective rotation of cash and bond assets into equity portfolios, to take advantage of price improvements/market declines.

  • Taking losses in international funds to offset any significant embedded taxable portfolio gains in large-cap growth from the past year.

  • Because the Build Back Better Act did not pass in 2021, there may be both a short- and long-term tax-saving advantage to converting a portion of Traditional IRAs to Roth. (Lower stock values mean lower taxable income tax payments now; sheltering savings in tax-free accounts means qualified tax-free withdrawals and tax diversification for the future.)

Because financial planning and underlying investments incorporate ‘unexpected’ risks, we establish diversified, allocated portfolios up-front so that we are not forced to deviate from our strategy when these incidents inevitably occur.

Adrianne



[1] Saphir, Ann, Marte, Jonnelle, and Dunsmuir, Lindsay. “How the Ukraine conflict could affect the U.S. economy.” Reuters, Feb 24, 2022
[2] U.S. Energy Information Administration, https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/oil-and-petroleum-products/imports-and-exports.php. Canada is the largest single source of US total petroleum and crude oil imports. In 2020, Canada was the source of 52% of U.S. total gross petroleum imports, Mexico the second-largest source at 11% and Russia third at 7%.
[3] Capital Group, Refinitiv Datastream, Standard & Poor’s. Chart shown on a logarithmic scale. Index levels reflect price returns, and do not include the impact of dividends. As of January 31, 2022
[4] J.P. Morgan Global Research, “The Russia-Ukraine Crisis: What Does It Mean for Markets?” March 9, 2022
[5] BBC, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-60610537, March 4, 2022
[6] Per FTSE 100 stock exchange closing value, GBP, March 4, 2022
[7] Shell PLC [SHEL] common stock closing value, GBP, March 4, 2022
Tax laws are complex and subject to change. This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for tax preparation. None of Strategic Wealth Capital, LLC, Sanctuary Advisors, LLC, or Sanctuary Securities Inc., nor their affiliates or employees, are in the business of providing tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to consult their tax and legal advisor(s) regarding their particular circumstances and any potential tax-related matters. Strategic Wealth Capital, LLC is a dba of Sanctuary Advisors, LLC. Adrianne Yamaki is a financial advisor and Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) of Sanctuary Advisors, LLC and registered representative of Sanctuary Securities, Inc. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sanctuary Advisors, LLC or its affiliates. All opinions are subject to change without notice. Neither the information provided, nor any opinion expressed, constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material does not provide individually tailored investment advice. It has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. The strategies and/or investments discussed in this material will not be suitable for all investors. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
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