Keeping Perspective: The Ukraine Tragedy


I would like to add some perspective on the grim situation in Ukraine and what could happen in markets now and in the year ahead.

The invasion of Ukraine is a serious and intense escalation in tensions between Russia, Europe, and the United States. Before we dive in to the issues, let’s take a moment to think about the many folks who are suffering and dying as well as the ordinary Russians who will suffer from sanctions, instability, and economic damage. I hope and pray that diplomacy can end this crisis for all our sakes.

Let’s talk about some the implications for markets and our economy.

Given Ukraine’s critical pipelines and Western sanctions on Russia, the crisis is causing higher energy prices, which we are seeing in higher pump and heating fuel costs.1

Sustained price increases could hamper the Federal Reserve’s effort to control inflation, so we’re keeping an eye on that as well.

What could happen in markets? Continued volatility, as we’ve already experienced, is very likely.

What does history teach us about market reactions to geopolitical shocks?

History shows that stocks usually recover quickly from geopolitical crises. I’ll add a disclaimer that the future doesn’t perfectly match the past — but it often rhymes. Let’s take a look at some examples from other invasions and wars.2

Here’s the key takeaway: short-term, markets usually react badly. However, a year later, markets have historically recovered. Will they always? In every case? That’s impossible to say. 

But, the study of 29 geopolitical events since WWII shows a general trend toward short-term losses in the first weeks and longer-term gains over months.2

A note: “geopolitical event” is a very antiseptic phrase for horrible things like bombings, wars, invasions, attacks, and really fails to encompass the full cost in human misery.

Let’s never forget the truth behind the numbers.

We can’t know or control what happens next. We can hope, pray, and be charitable to those in need.

And we can focus on what’s in our control: Ourselves, our actions and reactions, and our strategies for uncertain times.

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