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The Economic Consequences of the Ukraine War

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been rapid and dramatic, but the global economic consequences will be much slower to materialize and less spectacular. Yet, other than Ukraine, Russia will likely be the biggest long-term economic loser from the conflict.

CAMBRIDGE – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been rapid and dramatic, but the economic consequences will be much slower to materialize and less spectacular. The war itself is enormously tragic, first and foremost for the Ukrainian people, but also for the Russian people and the global order more generally. When something like this happens, we expect it to be like a morality play in which all the bad consequences play out equally dramatically in every dimension, including the economy. But the economy does not work that way.

True, financial markets reacted swiftly to news of Russia’s invasion. The MSCI All Country World Index, a leading global equity gauge, fell to its lowest level in almost a year. The price of oil rose above $100 a barrel, while European natural gas prices initially surged by almost 70%.

These energy-price increases will negatively affect the global economy. Europe is especially vulnerable, because it did little in recent years to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, and in some cases – notably, Germany, which abandoned nuclear power – even exacerbated it.

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