February 28

What Comes Next?

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Some perspective on the grim situation in Ukraine and what could happen in markets.

(Need a break from it? Scroll down to the P.S.)

The invasion of Ukraine is a serious and scary escalation in tensions between Russia, Europe, and the United States.

Before we dive in to what it could mean, let’s take a moment to think about the many folks who are suffering and dying as well as the ordinary Russians who will suffer from sanctions, instability, and economic damage.

I hope and pray that diplomacy can end this crisis for all our sakes.

Let’s talk about some possible implications for markets and our economy.

Given Ukraine’s critical pipelines and Western sanctions on Russia, the crisis may lead to higher energy prices, which will trickle down to higher pump and heating fuel costs.1

Sustained price increases could hamper the Federal Reserve’s effort to control inflation, so we’re keeping an eye on that as well.

What could happen in markets?

Extreme volatility, as we’ve already experienced, is very likely. Another correction (or even a bear market) is definitely possible.

What does history teach us about market reactions to geopolitical shocks?

History shows that stocks usually recover quickly from geopolitical crises.

I’ll add a disclaimer that the future doesn’t perfectly match the past — but it often rhymes.

Let’s take a look at some examples from other invasions and wars.2

Here’s the key takeaway: short-term, markets usually react badly. However, a year later, markets have historically recovered.

Will they always? In every case? That’s impossible to say. 

But, the study of 29 geopolitical events since WWII shows a general trend toward short-term losses in the first weeks and longer-term gains over months.2

A note: “geopolitical event” is a very antiseptic phrase for horrible things like bombings, wars, invasions, attacks, and really fails to encompass the full cost in human misery.

Let’s never forget the truth behind the numbers.

We can’t know or control what happens next. We can hope, pray, donate, and speak out.

And we can focus on what’s in our control: Ourselves, our actions and reactions, and our strategies for uncertain times.

Let’s hug the people we love extra tightly today and be very grateful for our blessings.


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P.S. Tired of war and bad news? Need a break? I’ve got two TED talks for you: 1) A dive into research that shows how our brains might be wired for optimism; 2) How to forge meaning from challenging moments.

P.P.S. Looking for ways to donate to Ukrainians? Here’s a roundup of some organizations doing good work.

1 – https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/27/business/oil-prices-russia-ukraine.html

2 – https://www.reuters.com/markets/asia/live-markets-what-history-says-about-geopolitics-market-2022-02-18/

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About the author

Gardner is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and principal of Sherrill Wealth Management in Bradenton, Florida. He has spent 20+ years in the wealth management field helping families negotiate the various obstacles and opportunities that retirement provides them.
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