Russia's up to no good | Volkswagen's loses its street cred |

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Today's big stories

  1. Investors didn't react well when Russia took its first steps into Ukraine
  2. One investment manager has laid out how each possible outcome of this Ukraine crisis could impact your investments – Read Now
  3. Volkswagen is planning an initial public offering of Porsche



What’s Going On Here?

Another act of Russian aggression sent ripples through markets on Tuesday, but you know what they say: even Vlad publicity is good publicity.

What Does This Mean?

The West has been concerned that Russia might invade Ukraine for a few weeks now, and Russia’s decision on Monday to recognize the independence of two separatist Ukrainian regions – and to subsequently install troops in both of them – won’t have done much to help matters. Investors certainly didn’t like it one bit: global stock markets fell at the prospect of all-out war, and the prices of gold and government bonds soared as everyone rushed to buy safe-haven assets. The price of oil shot up by 5%, as the prospect of a disruption to supplies of the slippery elixir took hold. And with Russian sanctions looking more and more likely, the Russian ruble rounded things off by collapsing to a 15-month low.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: Inflation up, growth down.
Just the news that Russia – the world’s third-biggest oil producer – might be edging closer to an invasion sent the price of oil up to nearly $100 a barrel. That alone could put more pressure on the global economy, but JPMorgan has war-gamed a scenario where we hit $150 a barrel this quarter. If that happens, the investment bank’s forecast for global inflation in the first half of the year would double to 7.2%, and global economic growth would shrink from 4.1% to 0.9%.

The bigger picture: A lose-lose for central banks.
That combination of higher inflation and slowing growth would put central banks in a Catch-22. One of the best weapons in their arsenal to limit inflation is to raise interest rates even quicker than they’d planned, which would slow down borrowing and spending. But they’d also be aware that those same interest rate hikes would, by definition, only make the economic slowdown worse.

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Analyst Take

An Investor’s Guide To The Russia-Ukraine Crisis

An Investor’s Guide To The Russia-Ukraine Crisis
Photo of Carl Hazeley

Carl Hazeley, Analyst

What’s Going On Here?

The Russia-Ukraine crisis is on a knife’s edge, that much is clear.

And while where we go from here is up in the air right now, economists from investment manager abrdn have considered various outcomes.

We could be looking at a diplomatic fix, for example. But that’s not a clear-cut “shake hands and let’s be friends” situation, as any sign of weakness could precipitate more negotiations.

We could be looking at some combination of fragile diplomacy and Russian “grey-zone activity” – a.k.a. cyber warfare – that rumbles on for a while yet.

Or there could be something much, much worse.

So that’s today’s Insight: six scenarios for how the crisis might pan out, and how the crossfire from each of them could damage your portfolio.

Read or listen to the Insight here


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Brag Race

Brag Race

What’s Going On Here?

Volkswagen announced on Tuesday that it’s planning to list Porsche on the stock market, as the world’s biggest carmaker really leans into its midlife crisis.

What Does This Mean?

Volkswagen is desperately trying to redefine itself, having announced in December that it’s increasing its investments in electric vehicles (EVs) by 50% over the next five years (tweet this). But that money has to come from somewhere, and an initial public listing (IPO) of Porsche – which was taken over entirely by Volkswagen in 2012 – could be the answer to the carmaker’s prayers. It’s not clear how many shares Volkswagen plans to sell, but even a handful should go a long way: Bloomberg estimates that Porsche’s IPO could value the company at as much as $96 billion.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: Porsche doesn’t need Volkswagen.
That $96 billion valuation is even more impressive when you consider that Volkswagen is worth $129 billion, while Porsche’s supercars make up just 3% of the vehicles Volkswagen sells. So if Bloomberg is right, Porsche accounts for 74% of Volkswagen’s current market value. But Porsche is a lot further ahead than Volkswagen in its EV plans, with analysts expecting roughly half of its sales to be electric by 2025 – five years earlier than its parent company. Throw in Porsche’s much higher profit margins than the rest of Volkswagen’s businesses, and the luxury carmaker is arguably a much more appealing proposition.

The bigger picture: Just pretend we’re not here.
Ford’s also well aware of investors’ penchant for EV stocks, which might be why the American carmaker said late last week that it’s looking to separate its EV division from its century-old legacy business. Ford did say it considered listing the division on the stock market, but it’s more likely to turn it into its own segment that’ll report its own separate financial results. That should make it easier for investors to value its EV business, and should push up the valuation of the company as a whole.

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💬 Quote of the day

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson (an American essayist, lecturer, and philosopher)
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