Wall Street Has Its Eyes Set on Ukraine

Wall Street wants Ukraine to be a place of investment, and there are some top players who do more than just look at the potential.

BlackRock, the largest money-management company in the world, continues to hold high-level talks with the government. This includes President Volodymyr Zelensky. JPMorgan sent bankers to the ground in recent times to monitor the situation, as they tried to dodge Russian missiles, according my sources.

The country is ready for large-scale private US investment. Rebuild the infrastructure that was destroyed In its conflict with Vladimir Putin. Zelensky is a rock star in the American ­mediaThe country is fighting valiantly against an invading force. People are smart and resilient so there could be returns as good as any other place on Earth. Bankers talk about a private investment fund that could be between $20 billion to $100 billion at one point in the near future.

What is stopping private money now? A war that It shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Plus, for all of Zelensky’s obvious talents as a leader, he still hasn’t demonstrated an understanding — or possibly a willingness — to fight corruption on the scale necessary to make investors comfortable, bankers tell me.

The meetings between some of Wall Street’s top executives (think Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan and Larry Fink of BlackRock) and Ukraine officials over the past month didn’t garner the same ­attention as President Biden’s surprise visit last week. They have been taking place in secret and with little fanfare until they end.

These are very telling. They also reveal the perilous nature our ongoing engagement with this country. A possible nuclear conflict with Russia If we aren’t careful, it can lead to an economic downturn.

Until the war is over, these firms remain skeptical about investing in Ukraine.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Be wary of oligarchies

Zelensky appeared unabashed at his stances in these meetings. Request for billions of Dollars He is looking for private capital to immediately rebuild his economy. He doesn’t seem to understand what would prevent him from making such an investment. First, money won’t flow to Ukraine or any other country if it plants the pockets a Russian-style Oligarchy. 

This kind of crony capitalism is known in Ukraine as “Crooby Capitalism”. “systema” Oder “oligarkhiya.” It is a coalition of government and large business that weakens the free-market forces to competition. Systema is characterized by corruption and payments, which are a dead end to significant private capital.

Zelensky stated that he understood Ending corruption has economic consequences. However, deeds are more important than words. This is why one of the bankers involved in the process said to me: “There are no guarantees here.”

Then there’s the war, and Zelensky’s so-far unyielding determination to keep fighting in order to retake all territory occupied by Putin’s forces.

Blackrock headquarters in NYC.
Wall Street hopes that Zelensky will make a deal with Putin on land.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

This noble effort is not without cost. Bankers claim that private money will not flow until after the war is over. They’d love Zelensky. compromise on land to make that happen; maybe give up on retaking Crimea or allow Putin to save face and keep a few parts of the Donbas region in the east, which are nominally controlled by Russian separatists anyway.

There was some talk on Wall Street about a Ukrainian spring offensive and, if it’s successful in reclaiming some Russian-held territory, then Zelensky offering a possible deal with Putin so the reconstruction can begin. For now at least, that was described as a likely no-go by Ukrainian officials; Zelensky’s approval rating is at 90%, the bankers were told. It sinks to 40% with a land compromise.

Here’s where things get particularly fraught. Bankers got the impression from these conversations that Zelensky believes there is an endless supply of American money, despite the United States’ economic reality of massive and mounting debt (123% of GDP) and a looming recession that makes paying all our bills that much more difficult.

 Last week, Sleepy Joe Biden told Zelensky that “freedom is priceless.” That may sound good, but common sense tells you that such blank checks often come at the ­expense of needs here at home. 

Joe Biden
Joe Biden pledged $2 billion to Ukraine on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Back in the US …

While Biden was cheering on the Ukrainian resistance, his administration was caught flatfooted dealing with the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and the accompanying environmental tragedy that engulfed the area.

Residents were afraid to drink the water and lacked basic necessities while Biden was promising Zelensky another $500 million on top of everything else.

It’s reasonable to ask without the threat of censor, how much is enough taxpayer money for Ukraine as this war enters its second year. 

Fortunately, there is a solution being offered by Wall Street, though it all depends on Zelensky’s willingness to compromise with a sworn enemy, combined with a willingness to read up on the fundamentals of a free-market economy.

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