Paige Fusco

The ruble is back on top. Why?

What a wild ride the ruble has had so far this year.

Russia's currency nosedived in late February, losing as much as 30% of its value against the US dollar when Western nations slapped tough sanctions on the Kremlin for invading Ukraine. But then Vladimir Putin pulled out all the stops to save the ruble.

Spoiler: it worked.

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Paige Fusco

Much of the world has long relied on Russian energy to power their economies. That makes it very hard for them to punish the Kremlin for invading Ukraine by ditching Russia's plentiful oil, natural gas, and coal in the near term. So, who's most dependent on Russian fossil fuels? We look at a select group of OECD economies.

Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions – exacerbated by the Ukraine war – have sent the global food supply into chaos. Ukraine and Russia are massive food exporters, and the war has left global food supplies scarce and prices sky-high. Some countries have responded to the turmoil by enforcing export bans on some products to keep prices down at home – further disrupting the global food network. We take a look at food inflation in select countries over the past year.

Women across America will be impacted if the US Supreme Court repeals the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. But some will struggle more than others. Women and girls of means living in the South and Midwest – where abortion is likely to be outlawed – will likely be able to travel to deep-blue states where the procedure will remain legal. That won’t be an option for women from lower socio-economic groups who can’t afford to travel across the country for the procedure. Women’s rights groups say that women of color will be most disadvantaged by the change. We take a look at the percent of annual abortions, by race, in the 13 states with trigger laws that would outlaw abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Western powers have tightened the screws on the Russian economy since Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine. But so far sanctions have done little to sway Moscow. Still, the economic pain now inflicted on Russia is far more intense and widespread than what the US and its allies are doing to other regimes hostile to them. Here's a snapshot of current economic sanctions against Russia.

Paige Fusco

In a bid to curb inflation, the Federal Reserve is likely to raise US interest rates by 0.5% at its May meeting. Chairman Jerome Powell also hinted that further rate hikes would follow. The May rise coupled with the quarter percentage point increase last month would be the first time since 2006 that the Fed has hiked the interest rate in consecutive meetings. Criticized by analysts for being slow to tackle inflation, the Fed has said it will begin reducing its $9 trillion asset portfolio by summer — a further effort to reduce stimulus and prices that have hit a four-decade high. We look back at those 40 years of the Fed’s efforts to battle inflation through rate hikes.

Russia has been trying to regain political and economic clout across Africa, a continent where the Kremlin yielded great influence during the Cold War. For years, Moscow has been upping its investment in African countries to gain a strategic foothold on the continent. As part of this effort, it’s been sending mercenaries to support counterinsurgencies in West Africa, as well as flooding some African states with weapons. We look at Russia’s arms exports to Africa’s largest economies and compare them to military exports from the US and China.

Bad news for anyone in America smoking a pipe on a recreational boat while playing a percussion instrument in a wig: the war in Ukraine could make your life a lot less colorful if Washington decides to sanction more US imports from Russia. All of those items are among the things the US buys from Russia, with love, every year.

So in the meantime, take a picture of them and print it on photo paper, then scrub your hands in a plastic washbasin, get a snack from the nearest vending machine, and settle in with a good children's picture book to read. When you are finished, take a moment to reflect on why, with Russia's help, you are such an unbelievably weird person.

Check out some of the weird and wild products America imports from Russia each year below.

$531, 312 Smoking Pipes

Russian pipes still draw fans in America. Or at least they did until February 2022.

Value of US imports in 2020. Source: Observatory of Economic Complexity

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