Brian Jacobsen provides perspective on the Russia-Ukraine war and other key topics of the current week—plus, his thoughts about what the week ahead may hold. Here’s his report for the week of April 2–8, 2022.

The week that was

Russia-Ukraine update:

  • Actions:
    • After Russian troops retreated from near Kyiv, human rights watchdogs found mass graves and other evidence of war crimes committed by Russian troops.
    • NATO members agreed to provide heavy weapons to Ukraine.
  • Sanctions:
    • Lithuania became the first country that is part of the European Union (EU) to end imports of Russian natural gas. From now on, the country will rely on liquefied natural gas imported from other countries.
    • In response to Russia’s killing of civilians in Ukraine, Germany’s government is expelling 40 staff members of the Russian embassy in Berlin.
    • The U.S. banned U.S. banks from making U.S. dollar debt payments on behalf of Russia.
    • The U.S. is imposing sanctions on two of Russia’s largest banks and on Putin’s adult children.
    • The EU is planning on banning imports of coal from Russia. It is also planning to ban Russian ships and trucks from entering the EU.
    • The UN suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
  • Negotiations:
    • Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia has suffered significant losses but that Russia should complete its objectives in the coming days.

Economics:

  • Federal Reserve (Fed) Governor Lael Brainard said the Fed could not only hike by 50 basis points (bps; 100 bps equal 1.00%) at the Fed’s upcoming policy meeting but also could begin a “rapid rundown” of its balance sheet. The minutes from the March Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting gave more details about what a rapid rundown might look like. If not for Russia’s war on Ukraine, most FOMC members would have voted for a 50-bp rate hike in March instead of the 25 bps we got. They discussed how to shrink the Fed’s balance sheet and coalesced around a plan to reduce the Fed’s mortgage-backed securities holdings by $35 billion per month and its Treasury securities by $60 billion per month, starting with Treasury notes and bonds and then eventually shifting to Treasury bills. The minutes indicated the Fed might phase in this runoff over the course of three months.
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia didn’t change its stance on monetary policy at its Monday meeting, but it did drop the word “patient” from its policy statement, suggesting it’s getting a little nervous about rising inflation.
  • The Institute for Supply Management® Services Purchasing Managers’ Index rose in March to 58.3. There were healthy increases in new orders and employment.
  • India’s central bank kept monetary policy unchanged but struck a hawkish tone with its policy statement.
  • Russia’s central bank cut its policy rate by 300 bps, to 17%, to provide some cushion to the economy despite high inflation.

Politics:

  • Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said she will not seek a second term.
  • China’s government said it will change its audit secrecy rules to help Chinese companies listed in the U.S. comply with U.S. audit disclosure rules.
  • Pakistan’s leader, Imran Khan, called for an early election. He was trying to avoid a no-confidence vote in parliament. Opposition leaders have said the move is illegal.
  • Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minister, and Aleksandar Vučić, Serbia’s president, both won large majorities in elections. They’ve been closely allied with Russia’s President Putin, but they pledged to stay out of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
  • President Biden extended a pause on student loan repayments through August 31.
  • The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to strip Russia of its most favored nation status, making it easier to impose tariffs and restrictions on a broader range of goods.
  • Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will become Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, as she was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The week to come

  • It will be a holiday-shortened week with markets closed on Friday. The big data releases will be U.S inflation in March on Tuesday, March retail sales on Thursday, and March industrial production on Friday.
  • U.K. industrial production for February is released on Monday. China’s import and export data for March are released on Wednesday.
  • There are a number of central banks with monetary policy meetings scheduled: Bank of Canada is on Wednesday, Bank of Korea is also on Wednesday, and the European Central Bank is on Thursday.

Thanks for reading, stay informed!

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