…shorting the bear [DOT 1/3/22]

for every action...

…ok…there’s a damn good chance that if or when anyone actually gets through all of this one you’ll be wondering if I’ve finally taken leave of whatever might have been left of my senses…but it turns out that knowing I’d not really have the time in the morning & trying to get this done the night before coincided with my having a bunch of unexpected time on my hands…& my brief foray into saving time & getting ahead of myself backfired spectacularly…but rest assured among the reasons I knew I’d be out of time by the time this goes up are a dog I’m not generally responsible for & somebody’s birthday so I am not in fact currently constructing my own wall of crazy in a depressing basement somewhere or anything else that might call for a full on intervention in the interests of restoring me to something resembling a functional member of society…anyway this kinda goes around the houses a little & the bear thing could get a little tenuous…but I’ve thrown some pics in at least…& who doesn’t like a good bear pic…& some do like to think of russia…particularly a bellicose russia…in terms of the russian bear

…which…you know…can be pretty scary…& for all that the ukrainians have done a better job than most people seemed to think they could be expected to at confronting that bear…& we really shouldn’t undersell that part

The war in Ukraine isn’t going Russia’s way.
[…]
Lightly armed units propelled deep into the country without support have been surrounded and their soldiers captured or killed. Warplanes have been shot out of the skies and helicopters have been downed, according to Ukrainian and U.S. military officials.

Logistics supply chains have failed, leaving troops stranded on roadsides to be captured because their vehicles ran out of fuel.
[…]
These scenes of humiliation have played out widely on social media, where the Ukrainians have won a clear advantage. Multiple videos from around the country have portrayed scenes of burned Russian tanks, dead Russian soldiers and captured Russians, some barely out of their teens, making plaintive calls home to their parents.
[…]
U.S. officials and military experts caution that it is still too early to draw conclusions about the eventual trajectory of a war that is only days old.
[…]
What is clear, however, is that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s gamble on a swift and decisive takeover of Ukraine has not paid off.

The relative limits on the resources thrown at the fight so far suggest the Russians were expecting little or no resistance, and the Russians appear to be stunned, the U.S. defense official said, by the ferocity of the fight put up by the Ukrainians and the defiance of ordinary civilians, who have been seen swearing contemptuously at Russian soldiers.

Military experts have been stunned, too, at the tactical blunders and military shortcomings that the feared Russian army has demonstrated so far.

“Russia is actually showing the world they are not as strong as we thought they were. This is bolstering NATO’s confidence,” said John Spencer, an Army veteran who chairs the Urban Warfare Studies department at the U.S. Military Academy’s Modern War Institute.
[…]
The concern now is that, having suffered early setbacks, Russia will unleash the massive firepower at its disposal, raining down bombs and missiles on towns and cities to cow them into submission, Western officials say. But it could already be too late to regain the momentum seized on the ground by the highly motivated Ukrainian forces, who have had time to erect defenses in urban areas, arm civilians and discern Russian weaknesses, Spencer said.

It was clear from the way the Russians set about the offensive that their goal was to make a lightning push into the heart of Kyiv, capture or kill President Volodymyr Zelensky, and install their own puppet government, he said, thereby bringing the country under Russian authority without needing to fight across the rest of Ukraine.

Instead, with the Kyiv offensive stalled outside the city, the Russians face the prospect of having to battle through densely populated urban streets defended by soldiers and civilians who know the terrain. A siege could go on for months with an increasingly angry and agitated world looking on, bringing more potential punishment and pain for Putin and the Russian state.
[…]
“Kyiv is everything. This war is about Kyiv,” he said. “If they don’t take Kyiv, they lose. For the Ukrainians, not losing is winning.”
[…]
Where once a swift Russian victory had been widely foretold, all outcomes are now in play, military experts say. Russia may feel under greater pressure to accept a cease-fire, or it may step up its efforts to assert its military superiority — with potentially devastating consequences for Ukraine.

“If you had asked me four days ago, I would have said this will be over very fast and will be very bad,” Spencer said. “But since the last 48 hours, I have hope the Ukrainians can slow this down enough that they will survive this Russian invasion.”

The war in Ukraine isn’t working out the way Russia intended [WaPo]

…because…well, not exactly because but like the header said, bear with me…among other things it turns out the old bear chose to set upon an altogether more popular bear

…in his former line of work zelensky was an entertainer of various sorts…& among other things he voiced the dub for a particular character who, if you weren’t aware, someone out there likes to photoshop into a different movie every day…& it turns out this bear packs more than a hard stare

…no, really…apparently he was the voice of paddington bear

…but even so…if this thing drags on you’d have to figure the sheer size of russia in a military sense is going to…well…come to bear…& that’s not going to go great for their smaller neighbor…not that things are exactly going great for them right now…& how much ukraine can continue to resist that onslaught is likely pretty connected to how much success its supporters have in overcoming the logistical issues involved in getting them the things they need to do it…like the man said when offered the opportunity to get the fuck out of dodge

France and other Western states were wary of arms deliveries they feared could provoke President Vladimir Putin into action at a time when diplomacy was still alive.

Since Putin unleashed the attack on Ukraine on February 24 however, everything has changed.

Germany said Saturday its army would transfer 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 Stinger-class surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine, a U-turn from its longstanding policy of banning weapon exports to conflict zones.

France was also carrying out deliveries of defensive weapons to Kyiv, according to its military. Ukraine’s embassy in Paris said it had in particular requested anti-aircraft hardware.

On Saturday, Belgium announced it was providing 2,000 machine guns and 3,800 tons of fuel to the Ukrainian army.

The Dutch defence ministry said it had delivered sniper rifles and helmets, while 200 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles would be on their way as “soon as possible”.

The Czech Republic meanwhile is delivering 30,000 pistols, 7,000 assault rifles, 3,000 machine guns, several dozen sniper guns and about a million cartridges.

The United States is providing Ukraine with $350 million in additional military equipment to fight off Russia’s “brutal and unprovoked assault”, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Saturday.

Britain has said it is ready to provide Ukraine with additional military support, including lethal defensive weapons.
[…]
But after agreeing what to send to Ukraine there also remains the challenge of being able to get the equipment into the country and being able distribute it.

https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20220226-too-little-too-late-west-finally-coughs-up-arms-for-ukraine

…& when it comes to that kind of thing…the arithmetic matters…which means numbers…& although some set store by the wall st journal I’m too set in my ways not to think of the pink pages as being the financial times…which is kind of where the bear pics came in…because the FT is a little dry & I may have gone to that well quite a few times this go around

But promising aid is one thing, western defence sources and analysts caution. The challenge is to deliver it to Ukraine’s armed forces fast enough, or to a resistance movement should the Zelensky administration fall.

“The political rhetoric of support for a resistance is easy, delivering it in practice is harder,” said John Raine, senior adviser for geopolitical due diligence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in London.

“It requires investing in the legal and political structures needed to sustain it, and the supply chain logistics that actually dock the military aid with the resistance forces that will use it.”

The first challenge is to ensure deliveries are of appropriate military equipment that augments existing capacity and requires little training.
[…]
Getting the supplies to Ukrainian forces is also a challenge. In the lead-up to Russia’s attack on Thursday, Nato allies could deliver equipment by air or land, direct to military depots. But Ukraine’s skies are now dominated by Russian fighter jets, and Nato allies have said they will not provide air cover as that would effectively mean declaring war on Moscow. Many Ukrainian airfields have also been rendered unusable by missile strikes.
[…]
As a result, future deliveries will have to move in more covert conveys through contested territory, most likely from Poland which shares a 535km border with Ukraine and has been the main destination for the Nato troops deployed to its eastern flank this year.
[…]
“Ukraine’s tactical units started the conflict with 10 days of munitions and that will now have been reduced,” said Jack Watling, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “There is more in stockpiles but it has to be moved out to operational units . . . tricky if they are being surrounded.”
[…]
But the challenges rise if Kyiv is taken, the Zelensky administration falls and Ukraine’s army and territorial reserve fragment into a mosaic of resistance forces, armed militias and civil movements.

[…]Poland, although it recently signed a tripartite security agreement with Ukraine and the UK, might balk at remaining a base for supplies in such a confusing scenario.

Efforts to supply weapons to Ukraine face multiple obstacles [FT]

…so…maybe vlad still thinks he can just keep grinding away until the weight of numbers kicks in on his side of this thing…& hopes that the ukrainians will run out of the means to oppose him before things unravel on him…but there are other clocks to account for in this equation…not the least of which being that while man cannot live on bread alone…things don’t generally get better when the bread runs out

The disruption of grain exports from Ukraine and Russia through the Black Sea will probably lead to physical shortages of food in the world, particularly for countries dependent on those supplies.

If the war is prolonged, it will impact millions of people living in places such as Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Pakistan and Indonesia. That could have political consequences. Local and imported grain shortages have been cited as one of the causes of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, as well as the Syrian civil war.
[…]
And Lenin is credited with saying: “Wheat is the currency of currencies”. Even in the middle of the cold war, in 1974, the Soviet Union had to arrange and pay for huge wheat imports from the US.
[…]
According S&P Global Platts, Russia and Ukraine together were projected to export 60mn tonnes of wheat in the crop year of 2021-2022. All Ukrainian wheat exports, and most Russian exports, pass through terminals along the north shore of the Black Sea.
[…]
Americans, as expressed in campaign commercials, think their country is the breadbasket of the world. That was true, in part, for a while. But in the 2021-2022 crop year, the US is forecast to export 22mn tonnes, less than half the Russia/Ukraine total, according to S&P Global Platts. Canada should export about 15.2mm tonnes and the EU 37.5mn tonnes.

Worse, given the effects of the war, the wheat carry-over — what’s left from past crops — is expected to be the lowest in at least five years, and by some accounts the lowest since 2008.

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s November World Agricultural Supply and Demand estimate, the carry-over is estimated to be 16.19mn tonnes by June 2022. That is not enough to offset the Black Sea shortfalls, even it were all available.
[…]
In the next weeks and months, North African and Asian countries that depend on Ukrainian grain will be hoping the international community settles the Russian war quickly and that transport infrastructure and grain terminals are not sabotaged.

Droughts in countries such as Iran, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Egypt have added to shortfalls in global wheat production.

Some would suggest that other grain producing areas could simply plant more to offset the loss of Black Sea exports, but that would take time and be dependent on readily available fertilisers.

And, since Russia has prohibited the export of nitrogen fertiliser until April and China the export of phosphate fertiliser until at least June 2022, more grain output from other producing areas is even more problematic now.

Ukraine war disrupts global market for grains [FT]

…or in some circles…starts costing more

Grocery manufacturers are concerned that, while the vast majority of ingredients and materials for American products are sourced domestically, the economic effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be global, according to Katie Denis, vice president of communications and research for the industry organization Consumer Brands Association.

“We’re already seeing energy prices rise and commodities futures for wheat and corn spike. That’s going to prompt concern when costs to make and ship goods continue to set records and consumer demand continues to be above levels not seen since March 2020,” she said. “There is no slack in the system, making weathering disruption significantly more difficult.”

American Bakers Association President Robb MacKie said consumers will start seeing rising prices in anything that has grain in it — wheat, corn, oats, barley, rye — because the grain markets “are all tied to each other.” That could mean higher prices on breads, beer, cereal and animal feed, among other things, impacting billions of dollars worth of products.

“In a situation where the whole supply chain is already stressed, if [the conflict] goes on more than a couple weeks, you will start to see an impact in food prices,” he predicted.
[…]
There are a number of factors pushing the prices up so quickly. Russia’s attack has imperiled shipping in the Black Sea region, which is where much of the area’s wheat shipments are exported. And the Russian attacks could disrupt the ability of Ukrainian farmers to plant and harvest crops in 2022.
[…]
This week’s events “are proof that this will be a multiyear issue,” said Michael Swanson, Wells Fargo’s chief agricultural economist. “It’s my assumption that Ukrainian crops won’t get planted, or not anywhere near what they typically plant. And the Russian crops will be planted but will be embargoed in many markets. This is not something that will be resolved in weeks or months.”

Ukraine is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of both corn and wheat. It is also the world’s largest exporter of sunflower seed oil, an important component of the world’s vegetable oil supply. Together, Russia and Ukraine supply 29 percent of all wheat exports and 75 percent of global exports of sunflower oil, said Kelly Goughary, senior research analyst Gro-Intelligence, an agriculture data platform.

Black Sea sunflower oil futures are up 11 percent so far this year — amid a worldwide shortage of vegetable oils. Goughary said a loss of Ukrainian and Russian sunflower oil will drive up the prices for soybean oil, palm oil and other vegetable oils, at a time when the U.S. is pushing to use vegetable oils in cleaner-burning biofuels.
[…]
Russia is a key global player in natural gas, a major input to fertilizer production. Higher gas prices, and supply cuts, will further drive fertilizer prices higher. Russia is one of the biggest exporters of the three major groups of fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). Physical supply cuts could further inflate fertilizer prices.
[…]
“This is headed for a supply crunch that will be hard to resolve,” said Todd Hultman, lead grain market analyst for agricultural data service DTN. Corn is an especially fertilizer-intensive crop. Higher fertilizer prices mean that American corn farmers, who largely grow the crop to feed animals, will have a hard time being profitable.
[…]
Those higher costs will, in turn, be passed along to restaurants, retailers and, ultimately, consumers.
[…]
A chief concern for many economists right now is that a lengthy conflict between Russia and Ukraine would serve to change trade flows, said Kyle Holland, a pricing analyst covering oil seeds and grains at Mintec, which analyzes food commodity price data.

“If you can’t buy from Ukraine and Russia, where do you turn to for supply? We don’t really know the answer,” he said. “If Russia blocks the ports and there are sanctions on Russia’s most commonly exported goods, it could, for instance, create a situation where Russian wheat is unimportable. Then where do people expect to import from? The fears are being stoked and we’re stabbing in the dark a little bit because of the speed at which this has happened.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will likely ratchet American food prices even higher, experts say [WaPo]

…& then of course there’s the pipelines

which are a whole other bone of contention…& have been for a while, at that…& look to be something vlad is going to be forced to prize higher than ever

British oil giant BP said Sunday that it is “exiting” its $14 billion stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in one of the biggest signs yet that the Western business world is cutting ties over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.
[…]
The abrupt divorce is another sign of the uncertainty Russia’s invasion has created in the energy industry, which experienced wild swings in oil and gas prices last week as the attack began. BP’s 19.75 percent stake in Rosneft accounted for a third of the British company’s oil and gas production and more than half of its reserves.
[…]
The announcement marks the end of one of the Western world’s largest investments in Russia, seen as so politically important that Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair personally attended a signing ceremony for a key part of the deal in 2003. At that meeting, Putin called the BP-Russia deal “a reflection of the positive trends in Russia’s investment climate.”
[…]
It is the latest sign of the crushing financial punishment Western nations are meting out over Russia’s attack, including blocking Moscow’s access to the central-bank reserves it holds in the West and cutting Russian banks’ access to global financial networks.

The world’s biggest computer-chip companies have started halting sales to Russia of vital electronic components, to comply with U.S.-led sanctions. And the European Union is banning Russian flights from its airspace, forcing Russian airline Aeroflot to cancel many flights.

Hours after BP’s announcement, Norway’s state-controlled oil company said it, too, was quitting its investments in Russia — a group of joint ventures it valued at $1.2 billion.
[…]
It is unclear whether BP or Equinor will find buyers for their holdings or simply walk away from them. But BP is essentially erasing Rosneft from its books, saying it will no longer recognize a share of Rosneft’s net income, production or reserves.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/02/27/bp-russia-rosneft-ukraine/

…the how & why of stuff like blocking access to central bank funds is more than a little opaque to the likes of me…the broad strokes of a lot of these things we’ve been hearing about are easy enough to follow but I get pretty vague about the underlying workings…& they don’t always mean what I think they do…not just in ways like central banks not physically being anywhere central to their nations in a geographical sense, either…take that nord stream 2 stuff…it’s true that if it were up & running it would allow for a massive volume of gas to get to europe from russia…but not all of that would have been additional volume because ultimately it, along with a few others, are intended to supersede existing capacity…specifically including the stuff that currently has to make its way through pipes on ukrainian soil…for a fee, no less…which as the previous kerfuffles over the stuff attest to both sides of the current conflict have pretty strong feelings about

The majority of Russian gas has been delivered to Europe in the last century via pipelines that were built during the former Soviet Union (USSR) era. After the dissolution of the USSR, part of the pipelines belonged to states that were not in direct control of the Russian Federation anymore. Among these states, the majority of the pipeline network belonged to the Republic of Ukraine [13]. That meant that, after some time, Russian Federation needed to somehow negotiate terms under which the commodity will be transmitted from the eastern border of Ukraine to the western border of Ukraine where it would be offtaken from Gazprom by one of the European partners [14,15,16]. Gazprom, as Russian major natural gas producer and supplier has clearly announced its strategic goals which include integrated development of gas transmission system synchronized with expansion of production and storage facilities, implementation of various projects for natural gas export, renovation of existing transport network, preparation of new customers for natural gas reception, construction of new natural gas transport capacities, and diversification of supply routes [17].

Analysis of Changes in Natural Gas Physical Flows for Europe via Ukraine in 2020 by Filip Božić, Daria Karasalihović Sedlar, Ivan Smajla and Ivana Ivančić

…& although “The main objective of the paper was comparative analyses of natural gas quantities delivered through the existing pipeline capacities in the last decade and new pipeline capacities for the prediction of possible future flows of gas import to Europe. Changes in physical flows have been influenced by European energy strategies that became green oriented resulting with a high amount of non-utilized transmission capacities.”…& while I didn’t make it far enough past the abstract to determine if it succeeded in supporting its “main research hypothesis […] to show that the EU was fully prepared for the potential full cut-off of transit of “Russian gas” via Ukraine from 1 January 2020.“…it does suggest that “The pipeline transmission of natural gas from its main production region in Eurasia, the Russian Federation, to its main consumption region, the European Union, is always somehow the central, starting, and ending point of these [Complex business and political] relations [of the Russian Federation and European Union] [6,7].”…which is a claim that probably sounds a good bit bolder than it did when they wrote the paper…but either way plays into the part where another ticking clock would be how soon the measures enacted in the financial arena make vlad feel the pinch

Switzerland, a favorite destination for Russian oligarchs and their money, announced on Monday that it would freeze Russian financial assets in the country, setting aside a deeply rooted tradition of neutrality to join the European Union and a growing number of nations seeking to penalize Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.
[…]
Switzerland said it was departing from its usual policy of neutrality because of “the unprecedented military attack by Russia on a sovereign European state,” but expressed a willingness to help mediate in the conflict. It also joined European neighbors in closing its airspace to Russian aircraft, except for humanitarian or diplomatic purposes. But said it would evaluate whether to join in subsequent E.U. sanctions on a case-by-case basis.
[…]
Swiss national bank data showed that Russian companies and individuals held assets worth more than $11 billion in Swiss banks in 2020. As a hub for the global commodities trade, Switzerland also hosts numerous companies that trade Russian oil and other commodities.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/28/world/europe/switzerland-russian-assets-freeze.html

…discomfort which will, more than likely, spread to a lot of russians who arguably aren’t its intended target

The US and its western allies unveiled the most punitive penalties to date against Russia, the latest in a barrage of sanctions rolled out in response to the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
[…]
A senior US administration official added that the new measures amount to Russia “getting kicked off the international financial system” and becoming a “global economic and financial pariah”.
[…]
If Russia were unable to sell large swaths of its foreign assets in exchange for local currency, it would be hamstrung in its ability to defend the rouble. Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist for the Institute of International Finance, said imposing sanctions on the central bank could eventually lead to bank runs. Russians have already been flocking to banks to withdraw cash amid fears that the country’s financial system will seize up.
[…]
“I have great confidence the effects of these measures will be felt immediately in Russian financial markets,” a senior US official said. “Market participants understand that without Russia having the ability to defend its currency, it will go into freefall.”

The country’s record-high $19bn current account surplus, amassed on the back of its significant energy exports, will offer some protection. Russia continues to earn large amounts of foreign exchange via oil and gas sales, which should support the economy and help pay for imports. And the Russian central bank said it was propping up domestic lenders by offering them rouble liquidity.

Lacking access to the reserves to guard against the rouble’s collapse, the central bank would be left with only two clear options: raising interest rates, and capital controls.

The central bank may seek help from China, where more than 14 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves are held — the biggest single foreign share. It is not clear, however, whether China will want to provide it. While rushing to Russia’s aid would undermine US dominance of global finance, Chinese banks could fear secondary sanctions that would cut off access to dollars and euros.

The central bank could also try to sell a chunk of its 2,299 tonnes of gold, the fifth largest stockpile in the world, to friendlier governments. This gold is held in locations in the Russian Federation, according to the central bank.

But Sergei Guriev, an economist at Sciences Po university in Paris, said selling those reserves would also be difficult.

“Whoever says it will be easy to sell gold or yuans must be kidding — Chinese state banks are already blocking financing of Russian oil sales. China is afraid and rightly so of secondary sanctions. This is really a game changer,” he said.
[…]
Foreign investors held $20bn of Russia’s dollar debt and rouble-denominated bonds worth $37bn at the end of 2021, according to data from the Russian central bank.

Russian bonds comprise about 6 per cent of JPMorgan’s widely tracked index of emerging market local currency debt, and roughly 3 per cent of the foreign currency version. Russia only accounts for 3.4 per cent of MSCI’s widely tracked emerging markets equity index, less than Saudi Arabia or South Africa.
[…]
The measures could leave Russian securities listed on overseas markets out in the cold, as banks become reluctant to permit intermediate trading and investors grow wary of adding any exposure.

The local impact will be severe, according to Peter Williams, an analyst at Evercore ISI. “Russia banks and financial markets will likely face substantial stresses when they open, given the memories of the 1990s,” he said.

In terms of banks’ exposure to Russia, the Bank for International Settlements estimates that foreign banks’ claims on the country’s banks stands at only $29.3bn, and overall claims on Russian entities amount to about $89bn, JPMorgan noted.

That said, Europe in particular is heavily exposed to Russia’s enormous energy sector. “Russia accounts for well over 10 per cent of global oil and natural gas production and plays a significant role in European natural gas markets,” the bank said in a report this weekend.
[…]
“I believe we are on a conveyor belt towards Iran-style sanctions, which included this action against their central bank,” said Edward Fishman of the Center for a New American Security think-tank, before the latest moves were announced.

‘A global financial pariah’: how could central bank sanctions hobble Russia? [FT]

…now I’m not claiming we’ve got little ol’ vlad by the short & curlies…but there’s some shit here that read to me like he might well have taken one to the nuts at this point even if he isn’t visibly on the ground moaning in a fetal position…you gotta imagine he’s feeling some kind of a way to have made a point of pointing out he’d put the nukes into a heightened state of readiness

“I’ll be honest – I’m nervous,” Pavel Podvig, one of the world’s leading experts on Russian nuclear forces, said after Vladimir Putin declared a “special mode of combat duty of the deterrence forces”.

It is first time it has been done at least since the end of the cold war, and probably longer, according to Podvig, an analyst based in Geneva, where he runs a research project on Russian nuclear forces. “Things have not been rational in the Kremlin recently, and so it’s not a good sign,” he said.

Among Russia watchers and nuclear weapons experts, there is no dispute that Putin’s penchant for brandishing Russia’s arsenal reflects weakness and insecurity. And that is not a good trait in the leader of a nuclear superpower.

The country’s economy is hollowed out, smaller in dollar terms than South Korea’s and dependent on the vagaries of the oil and gas market. His regime relies increasingly on repression, and its armed forces are proving far from invincible in Ukraine. Russia’s 6,000-warhead arsenal is the only thing that makes it a superpower.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/27/putin-nuclear-warning-requires-west-to-tread-extremely-carefully

…in fact…from some perspectives…he might actually look kinda vulnerable, even

Russian bonds tumbled on Monday as investors braced themselves for the possibility that the latest round of western sanctions on Russia could push Moscow to default on its debt for the first time since 1998.
[…]
Sanctions against the Russian central bank are expected to seriously hamper its attempts to deploy its more than $600bn of foreign reserves to shore up its finances, leaving markets contemplating the possibility that a country with debt of only 20 per cent of gross domestic product could fail to repay lenders.

“A Russian default is now a real possibility,” said Tim Ash, economist at BlueBay Asset Management. “It’s utterly staggering how the mighty have fallen.”

Russia’s dollar-denominated bonds plummeted on Monday, with its largest — a $7bn bond maturing in 2047 — halving in price to 33 cents on the dollar, a level associated with a high levels of distress, according to Tradeweb data.

The moves came after S&P Global downgraded Russia’s credit rating to “junk” status late on Friday.

The cost of buying derivatives that insure against a Russian debt default soared. The price of Russian credit default swaps, which offer holders an insurance-like payout if the country defaults, rose sharply, with five-year CDS surging 20 percentage points to 37 per cent on an “upfront” basis, according to traders in the derivatives market.

CDS flips to being quoted on an “upfront” basis when fears of financial distress become elevated. This is because the cost of buying protection against default soars well above the standard running cost defined in the derivative contracts, so traders start quoting the additional payment they require at the start of the transaction.
[…]
A Russian default would be painful for overseas investors, who are already reeling from the decline in bond prices. At the start of the year, foreigners held $20bn of Russian foreign currency debt, as well as local debt worth more than 3tn roubles.
[…]
While the Russian state had a strong balance sheet before its invasion of Ukraine, traders and investors are increasingly worried that sanctions and other measures could prevent it from making interest payments to international investors. These technical factors could still trigger a payout on the CDS contracts.
[…]
“The risk in our view might arise in a scenario where current restrictions are potentially extended to include a complete ban on secondary trading,” Citigroup credit analysts wrote in a note to clients on Friday.

Ray Attrill, a strategist at National Australia Bank, warned that a Russian sovereign default would also echo through the European banking system, estimating that banks in France and Italy each own about $25bn of Russian government bonds, and Austrian banks held roughly $17.5bn of exposure.

Russian bonds tumble as new sanctions trigger default fears [FT]

…so…irony upon irony…putin’s russian bear sold the ukranian paddington short as an opponent…& it’s reached the point where the money is shorting russia’s sovereign debt…I mean…it doesn’t actually go boom or look great on video…but that seems like a pretty big fucking deal to me…& it sure seems like trying to pretend he can walk it off isn’t looking altogether convincing

Russia’s central bank more than doubled interest rates on Monday in an attempt to steady the country’s financial markets, after unprecedented western sanctions sent the rouble tumbling as much as 29 per cent.

The central bank boosted its main interest rate to 20 per cent from 9.5 per cent in an emergency decision, saying that “external conditions for the Russian economy have drastically changed”.
[…]
Russia’s biggest foreign bond, a $7bn bond maturing in 2047, halved in price to 35 cents on the dollar, according to Tradeweb data. Investors said the market was extremely hard to trade. “If you see a quote on the screen it might be live or it might not,” said one. “There’s nothing certain in this environment. It’s not about fundamentals any more, it’s about compliance issues.”

Trading in shares and derivatives on the Moscow Exchange was suspended, Russia’s central bank confirmed on Monday. However Russia-focused shares traded on other markets around the world dropped heavily.

Global depositary receipts of Russian companies traded in London, such as Sberbank, Lukoil and VTB, remained open. GDRs are a type of bank certificate that securitises the ownership of shares. Sberbank, which the European Central Bank warned was “failing”, plummeted as much as 75 per cent and TCS Group, which owns Tinkoff, dropped as much as 78 per cent. Gazprom halved in value. The LSE said it would suspend the shares of VTB, the Russian bank, if it remained on the US list of sanctioned companies from May 25.

In a further sign of how Moscow is being pushed further to the fringes of world markets, Norway said on Sunday that its $1.3tn oil fund, the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, would freeze its investments in Russian assets and begin divesting from the country.

Russia doubles interest rates as sanctions send rouble plunging [FT]

…but he can still batten down the proverbial hatches & hit up his rainy day fund…right?

The Central Bank of Russia’s substantial reserves stockpile was meant to maintain the currency’s stability in the face of market panic.

The reserves — worth $630bn, as of the end of January — are made up of assets and deposits denominated in the world’s major currencies (that is, the dollar, euro, sterling and the yuan). As well almost 2,300 tonnes of gold.

The stockpile was there so that the central bank could intervene in foreign exchange markets, shoring up the rouble in the event of volatility. There’s a Jedi mind-trick aspect to building up reserves too — if markets know you’ve got a load of them, they’re less likely to challenge you to use them.

The sanctions imposed by the US, EU and UK against the central bank are likely to render a lot, if not quite all, of these reserves useless. To understand what the CBR is, and isn’t, likely to have at its disposal when the banks open tomorrow morning, it’s worth taking a close look at what’s known as the “Data Template for International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity”.

The snapshot below was taken from the Twitter account of former Alphavillain Matthew Klein. We tried to find the official data on the central bank’s website, but it was no longer available.

…actually…as someone from the FT pointed out in the comments on the piece…it turned up again if you want to check

Securities make up a little more than half ($311bn) of what the CBR had at its disposal. According to its annual report, these assets were mostly highly rated, with just 6.8 per cent of them holding less than an A rating.

Given their high ratings, most of them will probably be highly liquid and easy to sell in times of panic. But how does the Russian central bank turn these securities into cash in the event that it needs access to dollars or euros fast? Well, it needs to rely on global finance.

Here’s how Ousmène Mandeng, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science who has spent decades working in the field of central bank reserve management, explained it to us:

Foreign exchange reserves are not held by central banks. Securities and money never move, everything is external . . .

In the case of securities, central banks would ask their brokers to sell the asset in question . . . In the case of, say, a German government bond [that the CBR owns], the broker in Frankfurt will call other brokers to announce the sale and, once a price is agreed, will instruct the custodian of the security to transfer it to the buyer. Upon receipt of payment into a bank account, typically in Frankfurt, the custodian will instruct the central security depository to assign the buyer as the new owner. The central bank’s then credited the proceeds at their account with the broker. 

The proceeds could then be used to instruct the broker, or foreign exchange dealers, most of whom are in London, to buy the rouble at a specific rate. The seller will usually be a Russian commercial bank. Seller and buyer may well share the same correspondent bank. Once the purchase is made, the Bank of Russia would instruct its correspondent bank to credit the seller’s account with euros.

Stopping the central bank using its securities to stabilise the rouble would, therefore, involve instructing the financial intermediaries that feature on this chain — brokers, custodians, central security depositories, foreign-exchange dealers, and correspondent banks — to freeze assets and stop acting on behalf of the central bank.

There is a paradox at play here, between what the US is willing to do to its political enemies and the rules for the private sector. Sovereign immunity normally protects a foreign central bank’s assets, usually held at the New York Fed, if they are “held for its own account.” That balm has, however, been tested over the years in various US lawsuits against defaulting governments, as bondholders spied rich pickings in their foreign-exchange reserves. Yet none of those lawsuits has gone as far as the US government’s evermore frequent targeting of the central banks of its enemies.

In targeting central banks, the authorities have invoked counter-terrorist and human rights legislation, alongside the US International Emergency Economic Powers Act. The latter in particular has proven a potent measure.
[…]
The second chunk of reserves the CBR holds are in the form of currency and deposits. These are worth $152bn. Of this $152bn, about two-thirds is held in official institutions. That includes other central banks, the Bank for International Settlements and the IMF.
[…]
It’s unclear how other authorities will behave. Notably China. According to the CBR’s annual report, as of the start of 2021, 14 per cent of foreign exchange reserves were held in China — the biggest share for any one state. Almost 13 per cent of the reserves are in yuan or assets denominated in yuan.

Russia may accept payments for its exports in renminbi and increase imports paid in renminbi from China and possibly other countries accepting renminbi. As renminbi-based payments will most likely be conducted by institutions outside the immediate influence sphere of the West, this would work.

The other third of the CBR’s deposits are held at private banks. Again, it’s impossible to say what share of this $57bn is held in the US, UK or EU. But as almost 60 per cent of the CBR’s reserves are in either dollars, euro or sterling, it’s fair to guess that it’s more than half.
[…]
And then there’s gold, the historical favourite of central banks worldwide. Including Russia’s monetary guardian. The CBR’s holdings are large — the fifth largest in the world — and, according to industry trade body the World Gold Council, they’ve been among the biggest buyers of late. According to its annual report, the entirety of the $130bn-worth of bullion is all stored in vaults within the Russian Federation.
[…]
Holding the gold in Russia, and not in London or New York, will make it more difficult for the central bank to dispose of it in large quantities. At the same time, having it close to home makes it very difficult for the US, UK and EU to successfully impose sanctions on Russia’s bullion. Financial pariah it might be, but people who know the market believe it would be foolish to assume that Russia will be entirely frozen out. The lure of gold has been an ever-present throughout history — particularly in periods of geopolitical uncertainty. If Russia is selling below market rates, then we think someone, somewhere will be willing to take the risk.

Officials in Moscow will be hard pressed to halt a collapse in the rouble. Here’s why. [FT]

…there’s actually a bit more to that than the parts I’ve included so if you’re interested this ought to be the whole article as a .pdf

…probably…but harking back to the part where one route past all the obstacles suddenly appearing between russia & finance is china…& part of that would have to do with that renminbi thing

Markets often react strongly to geopolitical events, but then later shrug them off. Not this time. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a key economic turning point that will have many lasting consequences. Among them will be a quickening of the shift to a bipolar global financial system — one based on the dollar, the other on the renminbi.

The process of financial decoupling between Russia and the west has, of course, been going on for some time. Western banks reduced their exposure to Russian financial institutions by 80 per cent following the country’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and their claims on the rest of Russia’s private sector have halved since then, according to a recent Capital Economics report. The new and more aggressive sanctions announced by the US will take that decoupling much further.

It will also make Russia much more dependent on China, which will use the US and EU sanctions as an opportunity to pick up excess Russian oil and gas on the cheap. China is no fan of Vladimir Putin’s war. But it needs Russian commodities and arms, and sees the country as a key part of a new Beijing-led order, something Moscow is aware of.
[…]
That does not mean China would break US or European sanctions to support Russia, but it could certainly allow Russian banks and companies more access to its own financial markets and institutions. Indeed, just a few weeks ago, the two countries announced a “friendship without limits”, one that will certainly include closer financial ties as Russia is shut out of western markets. This follows a 2019 agreement between Russia and China to settle all trade in their respective currencies rather than in dollars. The war in Ukraine will speed this up. Witness, in the past few days, China lifting an import ban on Russian wheat, as well as a new long-term Chinese gas deal with Gazprom.

All of this supports China’s long-term goal of building a post-dollarised world, in which Russia would be one of many vassal states settling all transactions in renminbi. Getting there is not an easy process. The Chinese want to de-dollarise, but they also want complete control of their own financial system. That’s a difficult circle to square. One of the reasons that the dollar is the world’s reserve currency is that, in contrast, the US markets are so open and liquid.

Still, the Chinese hope to use trade and the petropolitics of the moment to increase the renminbi’s share of global foreign exchange. One high-level western investor in China told me he expected that share would rise from 2 per cent to as high as 7 per cent in the next three to four years. That is, of course, still minuscule compared with the position of the dollar, which is 59 per cent.

But the Chinese are playing a long game. Finance is a key pillar in the new Great Power competition with America; currency, capital flows and the Belt and Road Initiative trade pathway will all play a role in that. Beijing is slowly diversifying its foreign exchange reserves, as well as buying up a lot of gold. This can be seen as a kind of hedge on a post-dollar word (the assumption being that gold will rise as the dollar falls).

…& we know a certain bitter little product of the cold war KGB might be looking to offload a fair bit of gold…& has access to a sizable border with china & banking facilities in renminbi…& not so much access to greenbacks all of a sudden

While sanctions against Russia herald more decoupling, it is also possible that the economic fallout from the war (lowered demand, even higher inflation) would push America and other nations into succumbing to pricing pressures that would favour Chinese goods. While there is likely to be a lot of political posturing on both sides of the aisle about standing up to Russia and China, it takes a long time to decouple supply chains. Policymakers in Washington have yet to get really serious about it.

Beijing, on the other hand, is quite serious about the new world order that it is pursuing. In his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US national security adviser, wrote presciently that the most dangerous geopolitical scenario for the west would be a “grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran”. This would be led by Beijing and united not by ideology but by common grievances. “Averting this contingency, however remote it may be, will require a display of US geostrategic skill on [all] perimeters of Eurasia simultaneously,” he wrote.

China, Russia and the race to a post-dollar world [FT]

…now that last piece might be heavy on the conjecture…& I can’t say as I’m in a position to weigh in on how well-founded some of its assertions might be…but given putin’s intentions towards ukraine…& possibly a few other places…there’s one thing it casually slides into the picture it’s trying to paint that appeals to my sense of irony almost as much as it leaves me uneasy to contemplate…”Russia would be one of many vassal states

…the closer you get to them the scarier bears are…particularly if they’re on the warpath…but if that’s true for bears how much more true does that make it of dragons?

…a bear is a snack for one of those motherfuckers

…& you know how you totally didn’t have time to be reading all that?

…I get it…there aren’t enough hours in the day…& it ain’t like we don’t all have better things to do with our time

Many of the impacts of global warming are now simply “irreversible” according to the UN’s latest assessment.

But the authors of a new report say that there is still a brief window of time to avoid the very worst.

Climate change: IPCC report warns of ‘irreversible’ impacts of global warming [BBC]

In the hotter and more hellish world humans are creating, parts of the planet could become unbearable in the not-so-distant future, a panel of the world’s foremost scientists warned Monday in an exhaustive report on the escalating toll of climate change.

Unchecked greenhouse gas emissions will raise sea levels several feet, swallowing small island nations and overwhelming even the world’s wealthiest coastal regions. Drought, heat, hunger and disaster may force millions of people from their homes. Coral reefs could vanish, along with a growing number of animal species. Disease-carrying insects would proliferate. Deaths — from malnutrition, extreme heat, pollution — will surge.

These are some of the grim projections detailed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body dedicated to providing policymakers with regular assessments of the warming world.
[…]
Low-income countries, which generate only a tiny fraction of global emissions, will experience the vast majority of deaths and displacement from the worst-case warming scenarios, the IPCC warns. Yet these nations have the least capacity to adapt — a disparity that extends to even the basic research needed to understand looming risks.

“I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this,” U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said in a statement. Noting the litany of devastating impacts that already are unfolding, he described the document as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”

“This abdication of leadership is criminal,” Guterres added. “The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home.”

Yet if there is a glimmer of hope in the more than 3,500-page report, it is that the world still has a chance to choose a less catastrophic path. While some climate impacts are destined to worsen, the amount that Earth ultimately warms is not yet written in stone.

The report makes clear, however, that averting the worst-case scenarios will require nothing less than transformational change on a global scale.

The world will need to overhaul energy systems, redesign cities and revolutionize how humans grow food. Rather than reacting to climate disturbances after they happen, the IPCC says, communities must more aggressively adapt for the changes they know are coming. These investments could save trillions of dollars and millions of lives, but they have so far been in short supply.

The IPCC report is a warning letter to a world on the brink. The urgency and escalating toll of climate change has never been clearer, it says. Any further delay will force humanity to miss the “brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all.”
[…]
Yet even if humanity musters the willpower to take drastic action, the world cannot avoid grappling with upheavals that are already underway.

By 2030, the number of children whose growth is stunted by malnutrition is projected to grow by at least half a million, the report finds. The glaciers of Mount Kilimanjaro will be completely gone in 2040. By the mid-century, between 31 million and 143 million people across Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia could be displaced by weather extremes.

Some baked-in climate impacts will transpire no matter how vigorously the world cuts emissions and adapts to rising temperatures, the IPCC report says. This finding could bolster vulnerable communities’ calls for compensation to cope with the “loss and damage” that comes with inevitable change.
[…]
A key aspect of Monday’s report is global inequity, and how the basic unfairness of climate change crosses continents and spans generations. The more temperatures rise, the wider the chasm between rich and poor will probably become, and the harder it will be for all communities to withstand the intensifying costs.
[…]
“The differences in vulnerability around the globe are really striking,” said Rachel Bezner Kerr, a professor of global development at Cornell University and a lead author of the IPCC report. “And it’s not just between the global South and global North, but within countries.”

Higher temperatures are linked to increased rates of violence against women and girls. People with disabilities are less able to evacuate from escalating natural disasters. Indigenous communities will suffer disproportionately as extinctions alter sacred landscapes and deplete traditional food sources.

The disparity is also intergenerational, scientists make clear. Most people currently in power will not live to see the most extreme consequences of continued emissions. It is today’s children whose lives will be defined by the problems their parents failed to solve.
[…]
So far, the world’s richest countries have failed to generate the pledged $100 billion in annual funding to help developing countries build greener economies and deal with the intensifying catastrophes caused by climate change — a promise that was enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
[…]
The head of the Ukrainian delegation, Svitlana Krakovska, continued to participate in the virtual meeting in recent days, even as bombs fell on her home city of Kyiv. The violence only underscored the dangers facing all people as the planet warms, she told an international gathering of negotiators over the weekend, according to two participants.

“Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots: fossil fuels and our dependence on them,” Krakovska said in an impassioned speech Sunday. “We will not surrender in Ukraine. And we hope the world will not surrender in building a climate-resilient future.”

Whether people can achieve that future is an open question. But the Earth is destined to undergo a radical transformation in any scenario, the IPCC report makes clear. Either humans will change voluntarily — aggressively transitioning away from fossil fuels — or the planet will force a far more painful transformation.
[…]
Humanity has the tools to do so. Technologies that would allow the world to travel, produce energy and heat homes without polluting fuels have been invented. Social scientists have plotted out the policies needed to protect the environment while creating a safer world for people.

“The bottleneck for a sustainable future,” said Pörtner, the IPCC co-chair, “is political will.”

Humanity has a ‘brief and rapidly closing window’ to avoid a hotter, deadly future, U.N. climate report says [WaPo]

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/02/28/ipcc-united-nations-climate-change-takeaways/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/feb/28/what-at-stake-climate-crisis-report-everything

…welp…there we are…with what I guess might be a pretty decent bit of corroborating evidence as to why even when they run longer than seems reasonable there’s a part of me that can’t help thinking of these DOTs as “the short version”…apologies for springing all that scrolling on you…hard to believe it’s only tuesday, really

P.S.

…sorry @butcherbakertoiletrymaker …I promise thursday’s will be shorter?

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41 Comments

    • …you jest…& I get that the battlestar galactica part went this way

      …but…depending on your definition of battlestar galactica…& your definition of bear…that one probably didn’t eat beets?

      …so…I reckon you could probably work up a post about the possible rules for a version of rock, paper, scissors using bears, beets, battlestar (glactica) as substitutes

      …not sure I’ve got time, though?

  1. This DOT was absolutely remarkable. How long did it take you to put it together?

    I will let you all in on a dirty little secret. I was an International Econ major in college and my concentration was banking. It was the 80s. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

    I never practiced this dark art but I remember a lot of it, all these years later. I don’t think I ever handed in a paper as well-researched and as far-ranging as this. At the time Applied (or Practical) Economics wasn’t really emphasized in my program, and the whole concept of Behavioral Economics was in its infancy (that field of study now often sweeps the Nobel prizes.) So mine was mostly a theoretical grounding, with a lot of simple algebra and some regression analysis baked in, but never through the lens of  case studies (I didn’t go to Harvard) or pretend “position papers” or anything. The closest I ever got, and this I had to do in Germany because my home institution looked down their noses at it, was retrograde historical research, but that is like reading a mystery novel starting with the last chapter and then reading backward to find out how what you to know to have happened did indeed happen.

    I salute you. THIS is what I should have been doing all that time.

    • PS: I read every word and followed many of the links. I started reading it at 6 AM (where I am that is when it went up) and here it is 9:26 AM. I enjoyed every minute of it.

      PPS: I did have to make breakfast for my two unruly roommates, so it wasn’t solid reading. I made eggs benedict, ho hum, but instead of Canadian bacon I used Parma ham and it was a revelation. I did this because The Forager-in-Chief came home recently and said, “God your ham is getting expensive…” “You got Parma ham, which is something you don’t normally get.” “No?” “No. You’ll see when I decide what I want to do with it.”

      • I salute YOU. That’s an impressive amount of reading. I always go through RIP’s treatises, but typically read the first few sentences of the individual segments and only go into detail on select entries. I mean, I’ve got a job.

        • So do I, unfortunately, or rather projects that are coming at me like enemy aircraft in some kind of video game. The joy of freelancing though is you get a deadline for some point in the future and how you meet that deadline is up to you (for what I do specifically, which involves no zoom calls or progress reports or really contact of any kind.) This is especially helpful if you have erratic sleep patterns, like I do, and SOMEONE in the house who will sometimes set an alarm so that he can get on a zoom call to God knows where at 2 in the morning, as happened just this morning.

          So even before I embarked on today’s Fantastic DOT Voyage I got hours of freelance work in and took the Faithful Hound for a pre-dawn st/roll. I’m a little paranoid because as I finish the files they’re time-stamped and my handlers all know I live in New York, but no one has yet questioned the quality of work done at 3:13 on a Tuesday morning.

    • …that’s kind of you to say…although when it comes to how long it took there’s kind of two answers…the reading I did in bits & pieces over the last day or so & I don’t have an exact tally…but I still ate & got some other stuff done & traveled about a bit so it can’t have been more than a few hours…actually cobbling it together into a post took a bit longer than usual because the FT doesn’t make that sort of quoting easy or convenient…so…might have taken me about as long to get from starting the draft to hitting schedule as it sounds like it took you to read it?

      …which is more time than I generally have to spare for running my mouth online…so that’s probably why I don’t bust out links to the FT very often

      …still…I never formally studied economics…just sort of picked up bits here & there by osmosis over the years because one way or another I’ve always known people who do that sort of thing for a living…& when it comes to a tendency to fall down rabbit holes about this stuff I guess I have the proverbial small bit of knowledge that’s a dangerous thing?

    • I was just on Jezebel Sunday night and even before the page loaded I thought I heard the sound of it circling the drain. I went over The Root about a week ago and could barely find a pulse. I wonder why The Takeout and The AV Club are excluded from this. They shared an HQ in Chicago, before the AV Club gang was passive-aggressively let go and the operation got packed off to LA. Are they under a different agreement/no agreement?

      • I’m pretty sure The Onion, The Takeout and AV Club have a separate unit since they were rolled up as a side deal to the former Gawker sites. I’ll skip them too, although it’s not really a sacrifice since they’ve been so gutted.

    • I was just coming over here to see if anyone had posted this. So does this mean anything written and posted today is by the non-union writers?

      Honestly, the people who left Deadspin and created their own site (someone remind me of the name) should just create news and culture verticles and poach GMG writers.

      • …I think the deadspin lot would be defector.com…& some of the ex-splinter ones went a similar route with discourse.com?

        …though I also heard that there might be some oddness with the root & its EiC…which either means some of those posts might be showing up on a different basis in some respect…but I sense probably not a better one?

  2. This is interesting:

    Since Russia turned off Twitter, anti-Trudeau, anti-vax, Brexit, MAGA hashtags have almost disappeared.

    • I have noticed. I do a lot of reporting bots and disinformation when I’m on there and lately it’s just been the ignorantly informed actual humans.

    • I’ve seen that Facebook has had a typically lame response to Russian disinformation channels like RT.

      They’ve shut them down in the EU only, and Nick Clegg in his usual meal mouthed way has said it was due to pressure from EU governments.

      The appropriate response would have been universal shutdown for obvious violations of Facebook’s rules against propaganda on a wide variety of fronts, not only the invasion but antivax lies and everything else it spreads. But Clegg and Zuckerberg know that if they actually enforce their rules against right wing propaganda in one place, they add to pressure to do it against other outlets.

      And so far Facebook has only taken token steps to shut down accounts that spread Russian propaganda, just as it has happily let accounts spread antivax and election lies as long as they respond to Facebook’s sporadic and feeble enforcement of its rules on specific posts.

      They’ll pretend that the problem is somehow isolated to Russia, but continue to ignore the much bigger right wing echo chamber and propaganda machine.

    • Well, yes, but I’d rank inciting an insurrection and abetting and covering up same as higher on the “traitor” scale than licking Putin’s ass. Not that it makes their crimes any less — just a longer list.

      Jesus, the world is fucked up.

  3. It has taken me four hours during meetings/etc., things which I can listen to with “half an ear”, to read this post. The post was a better use of my time. TL;DR the world is scarier than ever and mean, thoughtless, careless people are in charge.

    • …always nice to hear I might not be wasting folks’ time…so thanks for that…as for the tl;dr part…the flip side seems to me that there’s vastly more people who ultimately would prize taking steps to make the changes we need to above the goals of those people that’re in charge…which, on the one hand…same as it ever was…but on the other…I don’t think that translates to humanity being a lost cause?

      …if it ain’t broke don’t fix it is all very well…but if the thing in the process of breaking is everything everywhere I think there’s probably a pretty hefty majority out there who’d rather not wait until it’s all the way broken before getting to the fixing part, anyway

      …but I’ll stop before I wind up quoting churchill or something

  4. I AM NOW IN MANAGEMENT. HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS.

     

    I started my new position Monday (team lead). So far I haven’t really done anything, lol. Just learning the ropes and trying to keep everything organized.

      • LOLOLOL mostly because I haven’t been trained, and still don’t have access to all the applications/mailboxes I am supposed to. 😀

        My manager is pretty hands off. I do not plan on swooping in and making anyone’s lives uncomfortable. I’ve worked for enough bad bosses to know that you can do literally any job for a good boss and be fine. But a bad boss can be soul crushing.

        • ive currently got the type that makes plans for everyone but doesnt listen to feedback unless its from above and generally blames the floor staff when said plans dont work out coz feedback about why it wont work got ignored

          its not ideal…lol

          i’m sure you’ll do fine.. onwards and upwards 🙂

    • so glad i dont have to deal with that fucker on my tv….

      i just watch it voluntarily when it pops in a comment and get pissed off for free

      but really….i dont know why i keep doing that….i know whats going to happen

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