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Article | 01 April 2022 | Investments
After embargoes were slapped on oil exports, Russia closed down a crucial pipeline, apparently for essential repairs. It’s the classic supply squeeze. And when supply is constricted, prices rise. President Biden is under pressure to find alternative sources, as gasoline prices soar. He has ordered the US shale oil sector to do ‘whatever it takes’ to pump more oil. Channels have been reopened with Iran and Venezuela, long banned from the world market. The president even called Saudi Arabia and the UAE directly, seeking a production boost, but neither country would take his call.
It’s a 21st century retaliation. Ukraine, a long-suffering subject of cyberattacks, succeeded in raising an army of hackers from around the world. The combined power of this ‘IT army’ is so massive that it’s up there with the three great cyber powers: the US, China and Russia itself. The aim is to take down strategic Russian sites and cause havoc. It is also proving to be a useful fund-raising channel, even happy to accept donations in cryptocurrency. Meanwhile a digital iron curtain is falling, as Russia cuts itself off from the global web.
Tech wreck about to turn?
The Nasdaq index of US technology stocks remained volatile, losing more than $5 trillion from its peak in November, before rallying hard from the middle of the month. At one point, the scale of losses equated to the entire UK equity market. Companies with no forecast profits near term were worst hit, prompting cries of a ‘spec tech wreck’. The mega caps largely held up well, however, and Amazon pleased the market by announcing a stock split and share buybacks. Conversely, Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook) remained under pressure.