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The Putin regime has been, shall we say, a bit less than forthright with its subjects about what it’s doing in Ukraine. Specifically, using the words “war” or “invasion” to describe its invasion of and war on its smaller neighbor is now punishable by 15 years in the clink, which readers of this blog will know is no picnic. But they have been a touch more forthcoming acknowledging why so many Russians have been lined up at ATMs.

The economic situation in Russia resulting from Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine is “absolutely unprecedented,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday.

“There had never been an economic war like the one that was started against our country, so it is very difficult to predict anything,” Mr. Peskov said, according to state news agency TASS.

Well, it’s not impossible to predict anything, Dmitry. Why, both Fitch Ratings and the World Bank are predicting, rather forcefully, that your government will soon stop paying its bills. Which make explain why Goldman Sachs is making those staff moves from Moscow to Dubai permanent.

“Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements,” the company said Thursday in an emailed statement. “We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out pre-existing obligations in the market and ensuring the well-being of our people.”

The Wall Street powerhouse has maintained a presence in Russia in recent years, but the country doesn’t amount to a meaningful portion of its global banking business. At the end of 2021, the firm’s total credit exposure to Russia was $650 million, most of which was tied to non-sovereign counterparties or borrowers.

The same cannot be said of Deutsche Bank, of course, and so Deutsche Bank, in a very Deutsche Bank sort of way, will not be doing the right thing because, as ever, doing the right thing is hard, and Deutsche Bank prefers that others just, you know, do it for it.

“We’re there to support our clients. And so, for practical purposes, that isn’t an option that’s available to us. Nor would it be the right thing to do in terms of managing those client relationships and helping them to manage their situation,” James von Moltke said…. “Of course, we’ll need to look at how this situation evolves and consider our footprint in Russia as we gain some greater clarity as to the direction of travel here,” he said.

“As that [client presence] diminishes, so too will our presence in Moscow.”

Inspiring stuff. As is the position of the cryptocurrency industry.

“MasterCard has done it. Visa has done it. Amex has done it,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), a crypto critic and senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview. “In the U.S., these crypto exchanges aren’t doing it. Why have they chosen to be less moral than Visa and MasterCard?”…

Binance… said it’s complying with sanctions efforts and working with U.S. and international authorities, a wholesale freeze on Russian accounts “would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.”

Indeed. And also, arguably, a good reason why it shouldn’t.

Goldman Sachs to Exit Russia in Wall Street’s First Pullout [Bloomberg]
Deutsche Bank defends decision not to exit Russia: It’s not ‘practical’ right now [CNBC]
Crypto firms under attack for sticking with Russia [Politico]
Russia Says Economic Situation Is Unprecedented [WSJ]
Russia’s Rating Cut by Fitch, Seeing ‘Imminent’ Bond Default [Bloomberg]
Russia, Belarus squarely in 'default territory' on billions in debt -World Bank [Reuters]

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