Breakingviews

Review: Money, theft and death in Putin’s Russia

By Edward Chancellor
March 6, 2015

Bill Browder's grandfather was an American communist. The grandson ran a hedge fund which profited during the chaos under Boris Yeltsin. But Browder did not reckon with the hard men of the Putin regime. His book offers some sobering lessons for investors in emerging markets.

Ukraine crisis forced into suspended animation for 2015

December 29, 2014

Markets worried about Europe’s economy in 2014. They will worry about Europe’s security in 2015. EU sanctions over Ukraine will weigh heavily on Russia’s economy. A lot depends on Vladimir Putin, but Europeans need to define what they want sanctions to achieve.

Gazprom/Ukraine dispute is proxy for Putin’s whims

June 16, 2014

The Russian energy group will deliver only pre-paid gas to Ukraine, after talks on $4 bln of overdue bills collapsed. Combine that with renewed hostilities by Russian separatists in the east of the country, and markets were premature in believing that the Ukraine crisis has ended.

Sanctions on Russia will cost less than inaction

April 17, 2014

European leaders blame Russia for the takeover of Ukrainian cities by armed separatists. Yet they’re refraining from further sanctions because it’s not a full-blown invasion. The wavering and waiting will only increase the final price to be paid for Vladimir Putin’s actions.

Russia would pay steep price for Ukraine invasion

April 8, 2014

The pro-Russian agitation in eastern Ukraine has rekindled fears of an intervention from Moscow. But even if Vladimir Putin is tempted, the economic implications will hopefully bring second thoughts. Any Russian invasion would spur costly sanctions and massive capital flight.

Obama’s new sanctions aim to expose crony Putinism

March 21, 2014

The punitive steps against Russia are ostensibly just an escalated response to the Crimea annexation. But they allege a link between the Kremlin boss and Swiss oil trader Gunvor. Washington seems determined to reveal how Putin and his comrades amassed fortunes at public expense.

Rouble hard to defend against Putin’s attacks

March 14, 2014

The takeover of Crimea has sent the currency down, along with Moscow stock markets. The president’s erratic moves are hurting an already slowing economy, even before Western sanctions isolate Moscow. Soon even the central bank will find it hard to defend the rouble against Putin.

What Putin wants matters less than what he doesn’t

March 7, 2014

The Russian president fears real democracy in Ukraine as much as at home. And he’s afraid of a disruption of trade and financial ties if Kiev turns towards the EU. If the U.S. and Europe want Putin to back down, they have to convince him that he’s wrong on both counts.

West can hurt Russia – if there’s a will

March 3, 2014

The U.S. and Europe say Russia will pay a cost for its actions in Crimea. Markets contributed by sending Moscow exchanges down 10 pct. But Putin won’t be impressed until Europe reviews the two pillars of its relationship with Russia – finance and gas. That won’t happen overnight.

Navalny verdict shows Russia unsafe for business

July 18, 2013

The opposition leader was sentenced to five years in jail after a staged trial for graft. This is the most brazen example of Putin’s clampdown on all opponents. The Kremlin leader is clearly deaf to the need for reform. Investors should ponder - and start mapping exit routes.