L. Todd Wood
L. Todd Wood is a USAFA graduate, a former special operations helicopter pilot, and emerging market bond trader. He has worked on Wall Street for 18 years and has conducted business in over 40 countries and travels extensively. Todd is a contributor to The Moscow Times, NY Post, Fox Business, National Review, and others. His first of many thriller novels, "Currency", deals with the national security consequences of overwhelming sovereign debt. He splits his time between NYC and Moscow. His website is LToddWood.com
The talking heads are all abuzz over the dramatic fall of the Russian currency, the ruble. Phrases like "financial collapse” and "full-blown currency crisis” dominate the headlines. The leadership of Vladimir Putin has been called into question, with some news outlets saying he may be removed by those around him due to the economic losses they have suffered.
The downward spiral of the ruble, along with oil and sanctions, are definitely body blows to the Russian economy. However, I think the world is underestimating, or maybe just doesn’t understand, Russia.
Stratfor put out a quote this week that I thought was especially enlightening: "The sanctions were designed to inflict more economic pain than the West could withstand.” This in a nutshell is what we are facing with the situation in Russia.
One thing I can tell you is that this time, Russia will not be broken. The people support Putin, but what they really support is Russia. It’s kind of like that old saying: "I can talk bad about my family, but no one else can.”
Russians are used to enduring depths of pain that the West cannot understand. The Nazis killed twenty million Russians in World War II. We Americans can’t understand that depth of loss.
Stalin then killed another twenty million for good measure. That was only seventy years ago.
Ukraine is near and dear to a Russian’s heart. It is the birthplace of Slavic civilization. White Russians hailed from Ukraine a long time ago.
It is where the Russian Orthodox Church was started under Vladimir the Great. Russia, especially under Putin, will never allow Ukraine to belong to the West, no matter how many sanctions we impose. Think of Texas being armed by the Russians, and you’ll get my point.
Putin will find a way out of this mess. It is rumored that China is preparing to bail them out. When this happens, the ruble will soar.
That’s why I’ve been counseling people to look at buying rubles, not selling. They still have hundreds of billions in foreign currency reserves and a whole lot of oil and natural gas.
Russia doesn’t make many; but they do make darn good weapons, and there are plenty of countries who don’t like us willing to buy them.
When Putin emerges from this crisis, he will be stronger than ever. He will be the man who saved Russia from the West’s conspiracy to destroy Russia. The people will love him even more.