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HomeInvestmentThe Russia–Ukraine Warfare and Different Geopolitical Dangers

The Russia–Ukraine Warfare and Different Geopolitical Dangers


Joachim Klement, CFA, is the creator of Geo-Economics: The Interaction between Geopolitics, Economics, and Investments from the CFA Institute Analysis Basis.


The warfare in Ukraine is dominating the headlines. For now.

However the battle’s oblique reverberations will ripple far past the borders of its combatants and their allies. Certainly, they might give rise to new and diversified geopolitical dangers all through the world.

The warfare’s potential impact on the worldwide grain provide and meals inflation is very alarming. Ukraine is called the “bread basket of Europe,” and along with Russia, it provides wheat to creating nations throughout Africa, the Center East, and Central Asia.

There are already stories that many Ukrainian farmers are abandoning their fields proper originally of the sowing season to defend their nation. The world can pay a worth.

The warfare could lead to a whole or near-complete failure of the 2022 Ukrainian wheat harvest. Russian wheat exports in the meantime could drop to zero because the nation diverts its meals commodities for home use within the face of crippling worldwide sanctions.

Many nations depend upon Russian and Ukrainian grain imports to feed their populations. The warring nations are accountable for at the very least 80% of the grain provide in Benin and Congo in Africa; Egypt, Qatar, and Lebanon within the Center East; and Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in Central Asia. All these states should discover new sources of grain and pay a lot greater costs for them.

And that can compound an already dangerous scenario. Even earlier than the battle, meals inflation was growing. Over the past 12 months, it reached 17.6% and 4.8% 12 months over 12 months (YoY) in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), respectively. These ranges are paying homage to people who preceded the Arab Spring uprisings again in 2011. The scenario is much more excessive in Turkey, the place a quickly declining lira propelled YoY meals inflation to 64.5%.

Going ahead, a number of components could propel meals costs even greater. Past the shortage of grain exports from Ukraine and Russia, spiking vitality costs will improve delivery and fertilizer prices. With Russia, a significant fertilizer exporter, going through extreme sanctions, there can be much more upward strain on fertilizer costs. This can add gas to the hearth and ship meals inflation ever greater. In developed nations, whereas the ache varies throughout the revenue spectrum, such traits can largely be ameliorated by reductions in client discretionary spending: Folks alter by paying extra for meals and fewer on journey, leisure, and many others. However in creating nations, the place meals takes up a bigger share of whole dwelling bills and there’s much less discretionary spending, starvation is a extra acute danger.

Tile for Geo-Economics

The Arab Spring is a vivid instance of how such situations can ignite civil unrest and geopolitical tensions. It’s not an remoted occasion. The peasants’ rebellions within the Center Ages, the French Revolution, and the Revolutions of 1848, for instance, all reveal how growing meals insecurity can set off political and social upheaval. The impact is so sturdy that Rule 6 of my “10 Guidelines for Forecasting” states:

A full abdomen doesn’t riot. 

“Revolutions and uprisings hardly ever happen amongst people who find themselves effectively fed and really feel comparatively secure. A scarcity of private freedom shouldn’t be sufficient to spark insurrections, however a scarcity of meals or water or widespread injustice all are.”

The nations that depend upon grain from Russia and Ukraine together with the share of their populations that have been at medium or excessive meals danger earlier than the current battle are charted within the graphic beneath. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan together with Egypt and Congo are amongst these on the most danger given their reliance on Russian and Ukrainian grain imports, their current meals insecurity, or mixture of the 2.


Meals Insecure and Depending on Grain Imports from Ukraine and Russia

Chart showing countries that

However excessive meals inflation isn’t the one driver of potential turmoil. Constructing on current insights from Chris Redl and Sandile Hlatshwayo, who use machine studying to determine the predictors of social upheaval, we constructed a Civil Strife Threat Index that ranks nations based mostly on 5 key stability metrics:

  1. The share of their whole grain imports from Russia and Ukraine, based on UN Comtrade information
  2. The share of their populations with average or excessive meals insecurity, based on the World Financial institution
  3. Their youth unemployment charge based mostly on World Financial institution and Bloomberg information
  4. The variety of cell phone subscriptions per 100 folks, based on the World Financial institution
  5. Their Democracy Index ranking from The Economist Intelligence Unit
Book jackets of Financial Market History: Reflections on the Past for Investors Today

Why these 5 parts? Proof means that nations with excessive proportions of younger and unemployed males are extra vulnerable to instability; cell phones are important for organizing mass protest by way of social media platforms; and a scarcity of democratic establishments signifies that the inhabitants sees no alternative to alter the political management outdoors of direct motion.

Combining these 5 indicators yields perception into which nations are most liable to civil unrest. The chart beneath solely contains people who immediately import grains from Russia and Ukraine, so it’s composed of solely these nations that can immediately undergo from the fallout of the warfare in Ukraine.


The Civil Strife Index, by Nation

Rank Nation Threat of Civil Strife Index Worth Youth Unemployment Charge Cell Cellphone Subscriptions/ 100 folks Inhabitants with Average or Extreme Meals Insecurity Share of Whole Grain Imports from Russia and Ukraine Democracy Index
1 Congo, Rep. 40.5 42.7 88.3% 76.7% 2.8
2 UAE 32.5 9.0 185.8 53.5% 2.9
3 Saudi Arabia 32.0 28.2 124.1 8.1% 2.1
4 Belarus 31.3 11.2 123.9 48.6% 2.4
5 Lebanon 29.0 27.4 62.8 95.7% 3.8
6 Nicaragua 29.0 11.7 90.2 78.1% 2.7
7 Tajikistan 29.0 17.0 5.3% 1.9
8 Turkey 28.5 24.5 97.4 74.8% 4.4
9 Armenia 28.4 36.6 117.7 12.7% 99.8% 5.5
10 Egypt 28.4 23.4 93.2 27.8% 86.0% 2.9

The oil exporters — Saudi Arabia and the UAE — and Turkey, with its shut commerce hyperlinks to the UK and the European Union, are essentially the most troubling from an economics and investing perspective. Instability in these nations, may have a spillover impact that disrupts vitality provide chains and world commerce and triggers renewed spikes in inflation in 2022.

To make certain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE largely prevented Arab Spring-related unrest and will profit from the rise in oil costs. Nonetheless, their excessive rankings on the index, pushed particularly by the youth unemployment charge in Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s reliance on Ukrainian and Russian grain mixed with their low Democracy Index scores, could warrant some consideration.

The scenario in Turkey is especially worrisome given the nation’s already monumental inflation charge and the sturdy probability of a sovereign default within the subsequent 12 months because of the devaluation of the lira.

Traders must deal with political developments in these nations within the weeks and months forward. They might function an early warning signal of potential world provide chain disruptions that might have an effect on the UK and Europe.

For extra from Joachim Klement, CFA, don’t miss Threat Profiling and Tolerance and 7 Errors Each Investor Makes (and The right way to Keep away from Them) and join his common commentary at Klement on Investing.

Should you preferred this put up, don’t neglect to subscribe to the Enterprising Investor.


All posts are the opinion of the creator. As such, they shouldn’t be construed as funding recommendation, nor do the opinions expressed essentially replicate the views of CFA Institute or the creator’s employer.

Picture credit score: ©Getty Photos/alzay


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