U.S. sanctions on Russia have so far had little tangible effect

The New York Times reports: As it tries to punish Moscow for its intervention in Ukraine, the White House asserts that the sanctions it has imposed have had a “significant impact” on Russia’s economy, but their real effect so far, according to economic specialists, appears to be more psychological than tangible.

White House officials have pointed to the fall of the Russian ruble and Moscow stock markets as evidence of the success they have had in pressuring the Kremlin. Yet the ruble and Russian markets fell before President Obama began imposing sanctions. Today, in fact, both the ruble and the markets are slightly stronger than they were before the first sanctions were announced.

Russia’s economic downturn predated any action by the United States or Europe and, to some extent, predated the Ukraine crisis. Specialists said the volatility surrounding Ukraine has clearly aggravated Russia’s economic problems by sapping international confidence, punishing its credit standing and increasing investor wariness, but it is not clear how much of that stems specifically from the sanctions. [Continue reading…]

The Wall Street Journal reports: Angela Merkel is carrying a clear message from Germany’s business lobby to the White House: No more sanctions.

Several of the biggest names in German business — including chemical giant BASF, engineering group Siemens AG, Volkswagen AG, Adidas AG and Deutsche Bank AG — have made their opposition to broader economic sanctions against Russia clear in recent weeks, both in public and in private. (Read the latest updates on the crisis in Ukraine.)

As a result, Germany’s position on additional, tougher sanctions is unlikely to shift, barring a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Ukraine — a message Ms. Merkel is expected to deliver to President Barack Obama when they meet in Washington on Friday, officials in Berlin say. [Continue reading…]

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