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Affluent Christian Investor | October 19, 2017

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Crimea And Punishment: Who Really Stopped The Russians?

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Putin’s recent decision to order Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border to return to base was a surprise to many. After all, vague U.S. threats that there would be a price to pay and consequences for the invasion of Ukraine were hardly much of a deterrent. The red line which Obama had painted on the ground in front of Putin ally, Bashar Assad, in Syria, turned out to have been a weak watercolor. Does anyone seriously believe that Russian troops were stopped at the Crimean border by communiques from this White House or the diplomats in Brussels threatening that Russia would no longer be able to send representatives to G8 meetings?

No, Putin was not turned by diplomats or feckless heads of state from the West. He was dissuaded by speculators. Russia was not dissuaded by threats of punishment: Russia was dissuaded by actual punishment, meted out in real time by that most vilified of classes, currency speculators. As Russian troops crashed through turnstiles and over legal international borders, their Rubles crashed too. As international rule of law collapsed, so did the Moscow Stock Exchange’s MICEX Index.

For Russia to invade and annex Ukraine would be an unwise act of imperial overreach. Apart from legal and moral considerations (which are more complicated than either Putin haters or Putin fanboys would admit), Russia simply cannot afford an empire, not even a regional one.

What markets told Putin this week is that he can either have a great empire or he can have a great currency, but not both. The choice is his (which is part of the problem). Putin can expand his economy or he can expand his empire. At least for the moment, he seems to have chosen the better option of the two: To send the troops back to base, their point having been made, to sell natural gas at market price rather than subsidized discounts, to buy client states and rebuild the true foundation of a great nation and productive economy. I pray that lesson is not soon forgotten.

 

Article originally published on Forbes.com.

Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.

Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.

Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.

Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.

Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.

Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest five of their seven children.

 

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