Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - Russia’s potential default

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

Ukraine and Russia will resume talks Wednesday as a key adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called negotiations to end Vladimir Putin’s war on his country “difficult and viscous,” but acknowledged there’s room for compromise. The Kremlin contends Ukraine isn’t serious about the talks. Next week, U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Europe to take part in NATO and European Union summits.

Firefighters extinguish a fire in a 16-story residential building in Kyiv on March 15 after another attack on the city by Russian forces. Photographer: Sergei Supinksky/AFP/Getty Images

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg became the latest official to warn that Russia may try to stage a “false-flag operation” involving chemical weapons after Moscow made “absurd claims” about bioweapons labs in Ukraine. Slovakia’s parliament approved the presence of 2,100 NATO troops in the country. The nation bordering Ukraine will host U.S., German, Czech, Dutch, Polish and Slovenian troops, as well as a Patriot missile-defense system, Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said. On the ground in Ukraine, the evacuation of civilians from the besieged port city of Mariupol continues, with another 2,000 private cars leaving via a humanitarian corridor to the Ukrainian-government-held city of Zaporizhzhia.

A woman is evacuated from a burning apartment building in Kyiv on Tuesday. Photographer: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. said Russia asked China for armed drones as it was beginning its invasion of Ukraine. For its part, China says it wants to avoid being impacted by U.S. sanctions over Russia’s war, in one of Beijing’s most explicit statements yet on the threat. Meanwhile Russia’s economy is fraying, its currency collapsed and its debt junk. Next up is a potential default that could cost investors billions of dollars and shut the country out of most funding markets. Then what happens?

Bloomberg is tracking the coronavirus pandemic and the progress of global vaccination efforts.

Here are today’s top stories

More than two years into a pandemic that’s killed millions of people all over the world, two versions of the omicron variant of the coronavirus loom large. Both are wreaking havoc in Asia among populations that have largely avoided the worst of the health catastrophe. And in the U.S. and Europe, where nations have yet again dropped their guard, infections from the newer iteration are becoming more prevalent. With about 1.7 million new confirmed cases each day, the global Covid-19  infection rate is currently double the peak of every previous wave except the most recent. In Europe, often a harbinger of what’s to come in America (where authorization for a fourth vaccine shot is being sought), cases are rising again. Here’s the latest on the pandemic

Citadel Securities was thrust into the spotlight in 2021, with day traders, lawmakers and regulators all scrutinizing the firm at the center of one of the U.S. stock market’s wildest periods. They’re about to learn that amid the uproar, the financial giant had its best year ever.

Stocks rallied as oil tumbled and a widely watched manufacturing-gauge came in much weaker than expected, easing fears about more aggressive Federal Reserve tightening. But prices paid to producers rose strongly in February, underscoring inflationary pressures that will likely set the stage for the Fed’s first rate hike since 2018 on Wednesday. Will the Fed start rate liftoff with a 25 basis-point hike? We’ll see. Here’s your markets wrap.

Following Senator Joe Manchin’s announcement that he would join 50 Republicans in opposing Sarah Bloom Raskin, she withdrew as Biden’s nominee to be the Federal Reserve’s vice chair of supervision. 

Sarah Bloom Raskin  Photographer: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The Chinese yuan reversed earlier declines following a report by Dow Jones that Saudi Arabia is in active talks with Beijing to price some of its oil sales to China in the currency.

Trafigura Group, one of the world’s top oil and metals traders, has been holding talks with private equity groups to secure additional financing as soaring prices trigger giant margin calls across the commodities industry.

James Stavridis is a former supreme allied commander of NATO. Many had a mistaken belief that the Kremlin war machine was a rough match for NATO, he writes in Bloomberg Opinion, and were surprised at how much trouble the massive force is having subduing a much smaller and less-equipped military. Indeed, in just two weeks, more Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine than the U.S. lost in a 20-year war in Afghanistan. So what’s wrong with the Russian army?

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at a residential apartment building in Kyiv after it was hit by a Russian attack on March 15. Photographer: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

Yes America, You Can Be Fired For Being Fat

Americans who are overweight face bias in every corner of life. They’re more likely to be bullied in school, stigmatized by doctors, and convicted by juries. Survey respondents rated people who look overweight as lazier, weaker-willed, and less likely to win on Jeopardy! And as it turns out, overweight people are more likely to get fired—and there’s usually nothing they can do about it.

Americans who are overweight are hired less, promoted less and paid less. llustration: Saehan Parc for Bloomberg Businessweek

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