Britain Considers Life Without Its Russian Oligarchs

Roman Abramovich, Britain’s best known Russian oligarch

.. Since he bought Chelsea—a purchase that made him a household name—Abramovich, more than any other Russian billionaire, has personified to the British public what oligarchs do and are. They buy soccer teams. They buy art. They get divorced. They are absentee governors of remote parts of Siberia. Their fortunes rise and fall according to their relationships with Vladimir Putin.

..  If the U.K. has decided it is no longer willing to take Abramovich’s money or—at the very least—to help him transform it from one asset class into another, this is quite a departure.

.. passengers on the flight were subjected to the kind of bureaucratic oddities that I have sometimes come across when reporting in Eastern Europe.

.. According to anti-money-laundering campaigners, in the last two decades around a hundred billion pounds of Russian money have come through London and been reinvested in property, commodities, and financial instruments

.. Between 2008 and 2015, the British government granted so-called investor visas to some seven hundred Russian citizens, who were each willing to spend two million pounds in the country.

.. During the same period, Russian oligarchs and Kremlin-connected businesses hired some of London’s finest bankers and lawyers to protect them from the closing circles of international sanctions and financial regulations.

.. On March 16th, two days after May expelled the diplomats, Russia raised four billion dollars from sovereign-debt sales on London’s bond markets.

.. The previous day, the Russian oil giant Gazprom had raised seven hundred and fifty million euros in bond sales in the city. “Business as usual?” the Russian Embassy tweeted.

.. On June 14th, the soccer World Cup kicks off in Moscow.

.. An estimated thirty thousand England fans will travel to the country to watch the national team play

 

Exiting the Iran deal is a blow to financial transparency and US control

the West’s dominance of global finance has meant that the US effectively controls conduits which are the lifeblood of non-Western powers like Russia and China as well. Russia, itself bitterly subject to American sanctions, hopes to escape the noose by deploying a blockchain-based parallel infrastructure for international transactions. Whether such an enterprise will prove laughable and quixotic, or whether it might pierce meaningful holes in the US-dominated conventional system, depends a great deal on how policymakers, bankers, and entrepreneurs around the world react to it.

.. However, now, specifically with respect to its enforcement of financial sanctions on an apparently compliant Iran, it is the United States that seems, even among its Western partners, to be the rogue state in need of policing. However begrudging European acquiescence to extraterritorial US sanctions may have been two days ago, it is more begrudging today.

.. More than that, the remaining counterparties of the Iran nuclear deal — China, France, Russia, the UK, and the EU — all want the deal to continue. They will be at pains to persuade Iran that it continues to enjoy significant sanctions relief relative to what it would face if it abandoned the deal. Which puts those countries between a rock and the hard-place of extraterritorial enforcement by the US of reimposed prohibitions. At a policy level, the remaining signatories now have an active interest in enabling, even encouraging, evasion of US financial controls, an interest that is morally and politically defensible. All of a sudden La Resistance among sullen French bankers isn’t just about the juicy fees foregone, but a heroic struggle to #resist Donald Trump, to prevent the renuclearization of Iran. And policymakers might agree.

.. That might mean taking some of the pressure off of European and vacation isle tax havens, reversing the recent, American-enforced trend towards transparency. It might mean partnering with China and Russia to participate in the parallel, alternative financial arrangements that those countries seek to develop. It plainly puts at risk the hard won, absolutely extraordinary, hegemony that American regulators have over global finance.

.. And for those among the US #resistance who see Vladimir Putin beneath every strand of orange hair, what Donald Trump has just done makes the possibility of a new Russian SWIFT considerably less laughable.

10 YEARS AFTER THE CRISIS.

The financial crisis and the massive federal response reshaped the world we live in. Though the economy is in one of its longest expansions and stock indexes have hit new highs, many people across the political spectrum complain that the recovery is uneven and the markets’ gains aren’t fairly distributed. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at some of the most eventful aspects of the response and how we got to where we are today.

China to Target Trump’s Base in Tariff Response

Beijing prepares to deliver pain to President Trump’s support base, including with tariffs targeting agricultural exports

China is preparing to hit back at trade offensives from Washington with tariffs aimed at President Donald Trump’s support base, including levies targeting U.S. agricultural exports from Farm Belt states, according to people familiar with the matter.

The plans are part of a strategy that has taken shape in recent weeks as China seeks to avert tariffs by warning of possible repercussions and offering incentives to the U.S., including better access to China’s markets, especially in the financial sector.

China’s President Xi Jinping has taken this carro

.. China is likely to target U.S. exports of soybeans, sorghum and live hogs

.. The U.S. is among the top suppliers of these products to China, which imports around a third of soybeans that the U.S. produces

.. Any duties to be levied by China on those products would depend on how broad-based the U.S. tariffs are on Chinese imports, and plans could change based on what the Trump administration proposes, these people said.

Beijing is also weighing concessions including easing restrictions on foreign investment in securities firms and insurance companies, they said.

.. At the meeting, Commerce Ministry officials sought the companies’ views on the effects of scaling back U.S. agricultural imports, the people said. Since then the companies have been lining up alternatives sources—for soybeans, for instance, countries including Brazil, Argentina and Poland.\

.. At the same time, China plans to extend an olive branch to the U.S., which has been calling for better access to China’s markets. The opening could include scrapping foreign-ownership limits on Chinese brokerages and insurers, they said.

.. U.S. and other Western officials have often treated Beijing’s market-opening pronouncements with skepticism, saying hurdles have risen despite similar pledges in the past. Early last year, for example, it promised U.S. credit-card companies “full and prompt” access to China, but so far none has been given a green light.

.. The administration officials countered with a far-reaching proposal, the people said, for China to eliminate subsidies for state firms and take other measures

.. China has other measures besides agricultural tariffs in its arsenal, including

  • diverting large orders for aircraft and other goods away from U.S. manufacturers and
  • slowing the wheels of bureaucracy in approving operating licenses, or even
  • targeting U.S. companies with antitrust investigations.