Recession Fears: The Ukraine war is affecting markets
The Ukraine ware is affecting markets around the world and generating extreme volatility. Worries over inflation in Europe have been brewing even before Russia war with Ukraine in February. While some considered it was temporary, others warned that it was a sign of a deeper crisis. Now, six months since the start of the war in Ukraine, is a recession inevitable in Europe?
The impacts of the conflict will likely vary depending on geographical location. Europe, and countries such as the Baltic states and Poland, are likely to experience more difficulties than countries that depend less on Russia for energy. Western Europe, in particular Germany, also has no easy alternative energy source to replace natural gas from Russia. After Moscow decided to temporarily suspend its gas supply to Germany, gas prices climbed to 295 Euro per Megawatt-hour. Recent data showed that business activity in Germany and France contracted in August due to falling demand and rising prices.
The Euro hit a new 20-year low against the USD, making it more expensive to buy energy on international markets, which is paid with the USD. Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, forecast that inflation, which is at 7.5%, will hit double figures in autumn.
In the US there are already signs of improvement as inflation fell in July from 9.1% to 8.5% due to drop in gas prices. However, Europe continues to pay for its dependence on gas and inflation in Europe is already greater than the figure in the US. Falling food prices and fall in oil prices have not been enough to counteract the increase in gas prices in Europe. But some analysts argue that a recession could help deal with inflation, as long as it is not a prolonged recession.
Due to the global nature of financial markets, this could mean the US investors will see more volatility in the coming months, even if the US avoids recession in comparison to Europe. The European Union’s economy is larger than that of the US and many US-listed companies depend on European consumers spend less due to fear of becoming unemployed in a recession, company earnings and prices of stocks in US investors portfolios could also decline.
Apart from Russia war, uncertainty is also likely to be raised by the prospect of unintended consequences resulting from western sanctions against Russia and the risks that policymakers will involve the US in a conflict that the US could otherwise mainly avoid the effects of.