ANALYSIS | Signs Point to More Economic Turmoil as Ukraine War Intensifies

Russia’s economic reasons for invading Ukraine 2:05 (CNN) — US President Joe Biden’s visit to the critical swing state of New Hampshire to sell his domestic agenda has been overshadowed by new signs warning of economic turbulence from how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is creating greater uncertainty and volatility in the world economy, compounding the obstacles the president and his party are facing ahead of the midterm elections in November. This time last year, Democratic strategists expected Biden and his Democratic colleagues in Congress to be on the campaign trail this spring signaling America’s roaring comeback after the dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, Biden and many vulnerable Democrats are cautiously trying to maneuver around inflation at a 40-year high in the country, the threat that new strains of Covid-19 could derail the economic recovery, amid new confusion over whether or not to wear masks; and the ripple effect of a war in Ukraine that some Western officials now believe may drag on until the end of the year. Comparing the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine with an “earthquake”, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday lowered its expectations for global economic growth and forecast that the world economy would expand by 3.6% in both 2022 and in 2023, a sharp slowdown in growth to 6.1% in 2021. The IMF warned in its report that the war would “severely set back the global recovery, slowing growth and further increasing inflation” at a time when they still feel the effects of the pandemic. Economic growth without fiscal stimulus, this is the US challenge in 2022 2:08 The US labor market is strong, with the unemployment rate hitting a pandemic-era low last month, but it is not clear that voters will reward Biden for that. CNN’s Matt Egan reported Tuesday that gas prices are rising again, and some forecasters say Americans should brace for increases ahead of the tough summer driving season. That could serve as another blow to Biden just weeks after he announced with much fanfare that he was trying to drive down prices at gas stations by releasing a million barrels of oil a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during the next six months. There are also growing concerns about how the war is leading to greater global food insecurity. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in remarks on Tuesday that “the war has made a situation that was already dire worse.” Amid the conflict, prices have been rising at an alarming rate on essential goods including wheat, corn, soybeans, vegetable oils and fertilizers. “The shocks to prices and supply are already materializing,” Yellen said, “and adding to global inflationary pressures, creating risks to external balances and undermining the recovery from the pandemic. I want to be clear: Russia’s actions are responsible for this. But the United States is urgently working with our partners and allies to help mitigate the effects of Russia’s reckless war on the world’s most vulnerable.” As the administration looks for ways to show voters they are focused on lowering their costs, officials Tuesday announced additional changes to the federal student loan system to help more eligible borrowers pay off their debt sooner. Biden’s earlier moves canceled the student loan debt of some 700,000 borrowers by the end of March, totaling more than $17 billion in relief. But so far there is little evidence that voters are giving him political credit for that, with many of his Democratic colleagues urging him to do more ahead of what appears to be a challenging midterm environment. The food fallout from the war in Ukraine 1:22 The limitations of Biden’s power The White House framed Biden’s trip to Portsmouth as an opportunity to show how he is using every tool at his disposal to lower prices for Americans while making investments in the nation’s infrastructure to move goods faster and more efficiently. But it was yet another foray that only underscored the limitations of what you can do quickly to improve the bottom line for families right now. While this Tuesday focused on the bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed last year, the most memorable part of Biden’s speech was his solemn attempt to prepare Americans for the continued economic turmoil ahead, as he argued he was doing do everything possible to fulfill his campaign promise to “build this economy from the bottom up and the middle out.” “The fact is that we are in a situation where the war in Ukraine will continue to take its toll on the world economy. It will pass energy bill. It’s going to take its toll on food,” Biden said. He noted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has “increased gasoline prices and food prices around the world.” Calling Russia’s President Vladimir Putin “a big reason for inflation,” Biden worked on the administration’s clever phrase explaining rising gas and energy prices as “Putin’s price gouging,” an attempt to dull GOP messages that high prices are their fault. Alluding to the food insecurity issues highlighted by Yellen, Biden also noted that Ukraine and Russia are “the world’s two great bread baskets.” “A lot of people are suffering. It makes a big difference, it makes a big difference: the cost of a dozen eggs, the cost of a gallon of gasoline, it matters,” the president said, alluding to his own financial struggles earlier in his life. to underscore his empathy for what Americans are going through. These products are more expensive in supermarkets 1:01 While many Americans are finding it difficult to connect their pressing pocketbook concerns with infrastructure improvements that will unfold over several years, at the Portsmouth Port Authority, Biden tried to emphasize how billions of dollars in improvements to America’s ports, through the $1.2 trillion infrastructure act, could alleviate supply chain problems that have hampered the nation’s economic recovery. He noted that the Portsmouth Harbor supports more than 2,300 jobs, and noted how a recently completed $18.2 million Army Corps of Engineers project to expand the Portsmouth Harbor Turning Basin had caused ships arrive and depart “easier, faster, cheaper and safer. Without a planned US$1.7 million dredging project that was included in the new infrastructure law, the port may have had to go out of business, he said. “We are sending a message. This port is open for business and will be open for a long time,” the president said. “There’s so much more to this bill,” Biden said after detailing road and bridge repairs, efforts to ensure clean drinking water by upgrading aging pipes and expanding high-speed Internet access. “I’m not going to bore you with the rest, it’s significant. Look, we’ve made a lot of progress and we have an incredible opportunity ahead of us. But we know that families are still struggling with higher prices.” Biden lavished praise on New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, and Rep. Chris Pappas, who is trying to retain his seat in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, for helping make the improvements. of the port. In a nod to independent voters in the region, Hassan emphasized his work with Republicans in Congress to pass the infrastructure measure, citing the investments as “the foundation for ensuring that families, small businesses and our entire economy of New Hampshire can prosper. “