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    Economic Headwinds Mount as Leaders Weigh Costs of Confronting Russia

    BRUSSELS — The world economy is heading into a potentially grim period as rising costs, shortages of food and other commodities and Russia’s continuing invasion of Ukraine threaten to slow economic growth and bring about a painful global slump.Two years after the coronavirus pandemic emerged and left much of the globe in a state of paralysis, policymakers are grappling with ongoing challenges, including clogged supply chains, lockdowns in China and the prospect of an energy crisis as nations wean themselves off Russian oil and gas. Those colliding forces have some economists starting to worry about a global recession as different corners of the world find their economies battered by events.Finding ways to avoid a global slowdown while continuing to exert pressure on Russia for its war in Ukraine will be the primary focus of finance ministers from the Group of 7 nations who are convening in Bonn, Germany, this week.The economic challenges that governments around the globe are facing could begin to chip away at the united front that Western nations have maintained in confronting Russia’s aggression, including sweeping sanctions aimed at crippling its economy and efforts to reduce reliance on Russian energy.Policymakers are balancing delicate trade-offs as they consider how to isolate Russia, support Ukraine and keep their own economies afloat at a moment when prices are rising rapidly and growth is slowing.Central banks around the world are beginning to raise interest rates to help tame rapid inflation, moves that will temper economic growth by raising borrowing costs and could lead to higher unemployment.Global growth is expected to slow to 3.6 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund projected in April, down from the 4.4 percent it forecast before both Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s zero-Covid lockdowns.On Monday, the European Commission released its own revised economic forecast, showing a slowdown in growth to 2.7 percent this year from the 4 percent estimated in its winter report. At the same time, inflation is hitting record levels and is expected to average 6.8 percent for the year. Some Eastern European countries are in for much steeper increases, with Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Lithuania all facing inflation rates in excess of 11 percent.Last week, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, signaled a possible increase in interest rates in July, the first such move in more than a decade. In a speech in Slovenia, Ms. Lagarde compared Europe to a man “who from fate receives blow on blow.”Eswar Prasad, the former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division, summed up the challenges facing the G7 nations, saying that its “policymakers are caught in the bind that any tightening of screws on Russia by limiting energy purchases worsens inflation and hurts growth in their economies.”“Such sanctions, for all the moral justification underpinning them, are exacting an increasingly heavy economic toll that in turn could have domestic political consequences for G7 leaders,” he added.Still, the United States is expected to press its allies to continue isolating Russia and to deliver more economic aid to Ukraine despite their own economic troubles. Officials are also expected to discuss the merits of imposing tariffs on Russian energy exports ahead of a proposed European oil embargo that the United States fears could send prices skyrocketing by limiting supplies. Policymakers will also discuss whether to press countries such as India to roll back export restrictions on crucial food products that are worsening already high prices.Against this backdrop is the growing urgency to help sustain Ukraine’s economy, which the International Monetary Fund has said needs an estimated $5 billion a month in aid to keep government operations running. The U.S. Congress is close to passing a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that will cover some of these costs, but Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has called on her European counterparts to provide more financial help.Finance ministers are expected to consider other measures for providing Ukraine with relief. There is increasing interest in the idea of seizing some of the approximately $300 billion in Russian central bank reserves that the United States and its allies have immobilized and using that money to help fund Ukraine’s reconstruction. Treasury Department officials are considering the idea, but they have trepidations about the legality of such a move and the possibility that it would raise doubts about the United States as a safe place to store assets.Ahead of the G7 meeting this week, American officials saw the economic challenges facing Europe firsthand. During a stop to meet with top officials in Warsaw on Monday, Ms. Yellen acknowledged the toll that the conflict in Ukraine is having on the economy of Poland, where officials have raised interest rates sharply to combat inflation. Poland has absorbed more than three million Ukrainian refugees and has faced a cutoff in gas exports from Russia.“They have to deal with a tighter monetary policy just as countries around the world and the United States are,” Ms. Yellen told reporters. “At a time when Poland is committed to large expenditures to shore up its security, it is a difficult balancing act.”A downturn may be unavoidable in some countries, and economists are weighing multiple factors as they gauge the likelihood of a recession, including a severe slowdown in China related to continuing Covid lockdowns.The European Commission, in its economic report, said the E.U. “is first in line among advanced economies to take a hit,” because of its proximity to Ukraine and its dependence on Russian energy. At the same time, it has absorbed more than five million refugees in less than three months.Deutsche Bank analysts said this week that they thought a recession in Europe was unlikely. By contrast, Carl B. Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, warned in a note on Monday that with consumer demand and output falling, “Germany’s economy is headed for recession.” Analysts at Capital Economics predicted that Germany, Italy and Britain are likely to face recessions, meaning there is a “reasonable chance” that the broader eurozone will also face one, defined as two consecutive quarters of falling output.Vicky Redwood, senior economic adviser at Capital Economics, warned that more aggressive interest rate increases by central banks could lead to a global contraction.“If inflation expectations and inflation prove more stubborn than we expect, and interest rates need to rise further as a result, then a recession most probably will be on the cards,” Ms. Redwood wrote in a note to clients this week.A bakery in Al Hasakah, Syria. The interruption of wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia is causing food prices to spiral and increasing global hunger, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York TimesThe major culprit is energy prices. In Germany, which has been most dependent on Russian fuel among the major economies in Europe, the squeeze is being acutely felt by its industrial-heavy business sector as well as consumers.Russian gas shipments “underpin the competitiveness of our industry,” Martin Brudermüller, the chief executive of the chemical giant BASF, said at the company’s annual general meeting last month.While calling to decrease its dependence, Mr. Brudermüller nevertheless warned that “if the natural gas supply from Russia were to suddenly stop, it would cause irreversible economic damage” and possibly force a stop in production.Russia-Ukraine War: Key DevelopmentsCard 1 of 4In Mariupol. More

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    Russian Shipping Traffic Remains Strong as Sanctions Take Time to Bite

    WASHINGTON — Shipping traffic in and out of Russia has remained relatively strong in the past few months as companies have raced to fulfill contracts for purchases of energy and other goods before the full force of global sanctions goes into effect.With the European Union poised to introduce a ban on Russian oil in the coming months, that situation could change significantly. But so far, data show that while commerce with Russia has been reduced in many cases, it has yet to be crippled.Volumes of crude and oil products shipped out of Russian ports, for example, climbed to 25 million metric tons in April, data from the shipping tracker Refinitiv showed, up from around 24 million metric tons in December, January, February and March, and mostly above the levels of the last two years.Jim Mitchell, the head of oil research for the Americas at Refinitiv, said that Russia’s outgoing shipments in April had been buoyed by the global economic recovery from the pandemic, and that they did not yet reflect the impact of sanctions and other restrictions on Russia issued after its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.Crude oil typically trades 45 to 60 days ahead of delivery, he said, meaning that changes to behavior following the Russian invasion were still working their way through the system.“The volume has been slow to decline, because these were contracts that have already been set,” Mr. Mitchell said. Defaulting on such contracts is “a nightmare for both sides,” he said, adding, “which means that even in the current environment nobody really wants to breach a contract.”Russia has stopped publishing data on its imports and exports since Western governments united to announce their array of sanctions and other restrictions. Exports of oil or gas that leave Russia through pipelines can also be difficult for outside firms to verify.But the global activities of the massive vessels that call on Russian ports to pick up and deliver containers of consumer products or bulk-loads of grain and oil are easier to monitor. Ships are required to transmit their identity, position, course and other information through automatic tracking systems, which are monitored by a variety of firms like Refinitiv, MarineTraffic, Kpler and others.These firms say that shipping traffic was relatively robust in March and April, despite the extraordinary tensions with Russia since its invasion of Ukraine. That reflects both how long some of the sanctions issued by the West are taking to come into effect and an enduring profit motive for trading with Russia, especially after prices for its energy products and commodities have cratered.Data from MarineTraffic, for example, a platform that shows the live location of ships around the world using those on-ship tracking systems, indicates that traffic from Russia’s major ports declined after the invasion but did not plummet. The number of container ships, tankers and bulkers — the three main types of vessels that move energy and consumer products — arriving and leaving Russian ports was down about 23 percent in March and April compared with the year earlier.“The reality is that the sanctions haven’t been so difficult to maneuver around,” said Georgios Hatzimanolis, who analyzes global shipping for MarineTraffic.Tracking by Lloyd’s List Intelligence, a maritime information service, shows similar trends. The number of bulk carriers, which transport loose cargo like grain, coal and fertilizer, that sailed from Russian ports in the five weeks after the invasion was down only 6 percent from the five-week period before the invasion, according to the service.In the weeks following the invasion, Russia’s trade with China and Japan was broadly stable, while the number of bulk carriers headed to South Korea, Egypt and Turkey actually increased, their data showed.“There’s still a lot of traffic back and forth,” said Sebastian Villyn, the head of risk and compliance data at Lloyd’s List Intelligence. “We haven’t really seen a drop.”Those figures contrast somewhat with statements from global leaders, who have emphasized the crippling nature of the sanctions. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Thursday that the Russian economy was “absolutely reeling,” pointing to estimates that it faces a contraction of 10 percent this year and double-digit inflation. Earlier this week, Ms. Yellen said that the Treasury Department was continuing to deliberate about whether to extend an exemption in its sanctions that has allowed American financial institutions and investors to keep processing Russian bond payments. Speaking at a Senate hearing, she said that officials were actively working to determine the “consequences and spillovers” of allowing the license to expire on May 25, which would likely lead to Russia’s first default on its foreign debt in more than a century.Global sanctions on Russia continue to expand in both their scope and their impact, especially as Europe, a major customer of Russian energy, moves to wean itself off the country’s oil and coal. Trade data suggest that shipments into Russia of high-value products like semiconductors and airplane parts — which are crucial for the military’s ability to wage war — have plummeted because of export controls issued by the United States and its allies.But many sanctions have been targeted at certain strategic goods, or exempted energy products — which are Russia’s major exports — to avoid causing more pain to consumers at a time of rapid price increases, disrupted supply chains and a growing global food crisis.Truckers lined up to cross into Panemune, Lithuania, near the Russian port of Kaliningrad last month.Paulius Peleckis/Getty ImagesSo far, Western governments have levied an array of financial restrictions, including banning transactions with Russia’s central bank and sovereign wealth fund, freezing the assets of many Russian officials and oligarchs, and cutting off Russian banks from international transactions. Canada and the United States have already banned imports of Russian energy, and also prohibited Russian ships from calling at their ports, but the countries are not among Russia’s largest energy customers.The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global EconomyCard 1 of 7A far-reaching conflict. More

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    Yellen Says Aim Is ‘Maximum Pain’ for Russia Without Hurting U.S.

    WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Wednesday that the United States would continue taking steps to cut Russia off from the global financial system in response to its invasion of Ukraine and argued that the sanctions already imposed had taken a severe toll on the Russian economy.She addressed the House Financial Services Committee as the United States rolled out a new array of sanctions on Russian banks and state-owned enterprises and on the adult children of President Vladimir V. Putin. The White House also announced a ban on Americans making new investments in Russia no matter where those investors are based.“Our goal from the outset has been to impose maximum pain on Russia, while to the best of our ability shielding the United States and our partners from undue economic harm,” Ms. Yellen told lawmakers.The measures introduced on Wednesday included “full blocking” sanctions against Sberbank, the largest financial institution in Russia, and Alfa Bank, one of the country’s largest privately owned banks.Sberbank is the main artery in the Russian financial system and holds over a third of the country’s financial assets. In February, the Treasury announced limited sanctions against Sberbank, but Wednesday’s sanctions, a senior Biden administration official said, will effectively freeze relations between the bank and the U.S. financial system.The administration also announced sanctions against two adult daughters of Mr. Putin: Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Putina, who has been living under an assumed name, Maria Vorontsova. Others connected to Russian officials with close ties to Mr. Putin will also face sanctions, including the wife and daughter of Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and members of Russia’s security council, including former Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev. The official said those people would be effectively cut off from the U.S. banking system and any assets held in the United States.President Biden said on Wednesday that the new sanctions would deal another blow to the Russian economy.“The sense of brutality and inhumanity, left for all the world to see unapologetically,” Mr. Biden said, describing Russia’s actions as war crimes. “Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable, and together with our allies and our partners we’re going to keep raising the economic costs and ratchet up the pain for Putin and further increase Russia’s economic isolation.”Experts suggested that the latest round of sanctions were unlikely to compel Mr. Putin to change course. Hundreds of American businesses have pulled out of Russia in recent weeks, making new investments unlikely.“The asset freezes on the additional banks aren’t nothing, but this isn’t the most significant tranche we’ve seen to date,” said Daniel Tannebaum, a partner at Oliver Wyman who advises banks on sanctions.Other American agencies are joining the effort to exert pressure on Russia.In a news conference on Wednesday, officials from the Justice Department and the F.B.I. also announced a series of actions and criminal charges against Russians, including the takedown of a Russian marketplace on the dark web and a botnet, or a network of hijacked devices infected with malware, that is controlled by the country’s military intelligence agency.Justice Department officials also celebrated the seizing of the Tango, a superyacht owned by the Russian oligarch Viktor F. Vekselberg, and charged a Russian banker, Konstantin Malofeev, with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions. Mr. Malofeev is one of Russia’s most influential magnates and among the most prominent conservatives in the country’s Kremlin-allied elite. (The indictment renders his surname as Malofeyev.)At the hearing, Ms. Yellen told lawmakers that she believed Russia should be further isolated from the geopolitical system, including being shut out of international gatherings such as the Group of 20 meetings this year, and should be denounced at this month’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. She added that the United States might not participate in some G20 meetings that are being held in Indonesia this year if Russians attended.Ms. Yellen, whose department has been developing many of the punitive economic measures, rebutted criticism that the penalties leveled so far had not been effective, in part because there are some exceptions to allow Russia to sell energy.The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global EconomyCard 1 of 6Rising concerns. More

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    Justice Dept. Charges Russian Oligarch With Violating Sanctions

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it had charged a Russian oligarch with violating U.S. sanctions and unveiled additional measures intended to counter Russian money laundering and disrupt online criminal networks in an effort to enforce financial penalties on Moscow.The moves came as the United States has ratcheted up pressure on the Kremlin and some of the wealthiest Russians in light of growing evidence of atrocities in Ukraine and as Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the United States was helping its European partners investigate potential war crimes.The oligarch, Konstantin Malofeev, 47, is widely considered one of Russia’s most influential business moguls — he is said to have deep ties to President Vladimir V. Putin — and is among the more prominent conservatives in the country’s Kremlin-allied elite. (The indictment renders his surname as Malofeyev.)The actions demonstrated the reach of a task force created last month to find and seize the assets of wealthy Russians who violate U.S. sanctions on Russia, and the penalties appeared meant to enforce the far-reaching economic sanctions that the United States has imposed along with European allies.“The Justice Department will use every available tool to find you, disrupt your plots and hold you accountable,” Mr. Garland said, adding that officials had moved “to prosecute criminal Russian activity.” He pointed to the seizure this week of a $90 million yacht owned by Viktor F. Vekselberg, who was previously targeted with sanctions over Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.Mr. Garland said law enforcement was also pursuing Mr. Malofeev for illegally transferring money in violation of sanctions.The criminal charges against Mr. Malofeev, which were unsealed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, follow an indictment filed there in March against a former Fox News employee, John Hanick. Mr. Hanick, an American citizen, is accused of working for the oligarch from 2013 to 2017, and was arrested in February in London.Justice Department officials said in a statement on Wednesday that the charges against Mr. Malofeev were in connection with his hiring of Mr. Hanick “to work for him in operating television networks in Russia and Greece and attempting to acquire a television network in Bulgaria.”The U.S. Treasury Department, in imposing sanctions on Mr. Malofeev in December 2014, called him “one of the main sources of financing for Russians promoting separatism in Crimea.”Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement on Wednesday that the sanctions barred Mr. Malofeev from paying or receiving services from American citizens, or from conducting transactions with his property in the United States.Russia-Ukraine War: Key DevelopmentsCard 1 of 4U.N. meeting. More

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    March Fed Minutes: ‘Many’ Officials in Favor of a Big Rate Increase

    Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March meeting showed that central bankers were preparing to shrink their portfolio of bond holdings imminently while raising interest rates “expeditiously,” as the central bank tries to cool off the economy and rapid inflation.Fed officials are making money more expensive to borrow and spend in a bid to slow shopping and business investment, hoping that weaker demand will help to tame prices, which are now climbing at the fastest pace in four decades.Central bankers raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point in March, their first increase since 2018 — and the minutes showed that “many” officials would have preferred an even bigger rate move and were held back only by uncertainty tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Markets now expect the Fed to make half-point increases in May and possibly June, even as they begin to withdraw additional support from the economy by shrinking their balance sheet.The balance sheet stands at nearly $9 trillion — swollen by pandemic response policies — and Fed officials plan to shrink it by allowing some of their government-backed bond holdings to expire starting as soon as May, the minutes showed. That will help to further push up interest rates, potentially leading to slower growth, more muted hiring and weaker wage increases. Eventually, the theory goes, the chain reaction should help to slow inflation. “They’re very resolute in fighting inflation and moving it lower,” said Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “They are concerned.”While central bankers were hesitant to react to rapid inflation last year, hoping it would prove “transitory” and fade quickly, those expectations have been dashed. Price increases remain rapid, and officials are watching warily for signs that they might turn more permanent.“All participants underscored the need to remain attentive to the risks of further upward pressure on inflation and longer-run inflation expectations,” the minutes showed.Now, officials are trying to cool off the economy as it is growing quickly and the job market is rapidly improving. Employers added 431,000 jobs in March, wages are climbing swiftly, and the unemployment rate is just about matching the 50-year low that prevailed before the pandemic.Central bankers are hoping that the strong job market will help them slow the economy without tipping it into an outright recession. That will be a challenge, given the Fed’s blunt policy tools, a reality that officials have acknowledged.At the same time, Fed officials are worried that if they do not respond vigorously to high inflation, consumers and businesses may come to expect persistently higher prices. That could perpetuate quick price increases and make wrestling them under control even more painful.“It is of paramount importance to get inflation down,” Lael Brainard, a Fed governor who is the nominee to be the central bank’s vice chair, said on Tuesday. “Accordingly, the committee will continue tightening monetary policy methodically through a series of interest rate increases and by starting to reduce the balance sheet at a rapid pace as soon as our May meeting.”Ms. Brainard’s statement that balance sheet shrinking could happen “rapidly” caught markets by surprise, sending stocks lower and rates on bonds higher. Investors also focused their attention on the minutes released on Wednesday.The notes from the March meeting provided more details about what the balance sheet process might look like. Fed officials are coalescing around a plan to slow their reinvestment of securities, the minutes showed, most likely capping the monthly shrinking at $60 billion for Treasury securities and $35 billion for mortgage-backed debt.That would be about twice the maximum pace the Fed set when it shrank its balance sheet between 2017 and 2019, confirming the signal policymakers have been giving in recent weeks that the plan could proceed much more quickly this time around.The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global EconomyCard 1 of 6Rising concerns. More

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    U.S. Levels New Sanctions on Russian Tech Companies

    WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department on Thursday leveled new sanctions on Russian technology companies and illicit procurement networks that the country is using to evade existing sanctions, expanding the Biden administration’s effort to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine by crippling its economy.The new measures reflect the challenge that the United States and its allies continue to face in enforcing restrictions that have been imposed to cut off Russia’s central bank, financial institutions and oligarchs from the global financial system, and the need to disrupt Russian supply chains and efforts to conceal transactions.“Russia not only continues to violate the sovereignty of Ukraine with its unprovoked aggression, but also has escalated its attacks striking civilians and population centers,” the Treasury secretary, Janet L. Yellen, said in a statement. “We will continue to target Putin’s war machine with sanctions from every angle until this senseless war of choice is over.”Among the 34 organizations and individuals targeted are Serniya and Sertal, Moscow-based companies that illicitly procure dual-use equipment and technology for Russia’s defense sector.The Treasury Department is also imposing sanctions on several technology companies that produce computer hardware, software and microelectronics that are used by Russia’s defense sector. Among them is Joint Stock Company Mikron, Russia’s largest chip-maker.Adewale Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary, foreshadowed the sanctions during a speech on Tuesday, when he said that Russia’s military industrial sector would be the next to face restrictions.“We are planning to target additional sectors that are critical to the Kremlin’s ability to operate its war machine, where a loss of access will ultimately undermine Russia’s ability to build and maintain the tools of war that rely on these inputs,” Mr. Adeyemo said in his speech at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank in London. “In addition to sanctioning companies in sectors that enable the Kremlin’s malign activities, we also plan to take actions to disrupt their critical supply chains.” More

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    Soaring Cost of Diesel Ripples Through the Global Economy

    Farmers are spending more to keep tractors and combines running. Shipping and trucking companies are passing higher costs to retailers, which are beginning to pass them on to shoppers. And local governments are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars extra to fill up school buses. Construction costs could soon rise, too.The source is the sudden surge in the price of diesel, which is quietly undercutting the American and global economies by pushing up inflation and pressuring supply chains from manufacturing to retail. It is one more cost of the war in Ukraine. Russia is a major exporter of both diesel and the crude oil that diesel is made from in refineries.Car owners in the United States have been shocked by gasoline prices of more than $4 a gallon, but there has been an even bigger increase in the price of diesel, which plays a critical role in the global economy because it powers so many different kinds of vehicles and equipment. A gallon of diesel is selling for an average of $5.19 in the United States, according to government figures, up from $3.61 in January. In Germany, the retail price has shot up to 2.15 euros a liter, or $9.10 a gallon, from €1.66 at the end of February, according to ADAC, the country’s version of AAA.Fueling stations in Argentina have begun rationing diesel, jeopardizing one of the world’s leading agricultural economies, and energy analysts warn that the same could soon happen in Europe, where some businesses report spending twice as much on diesel as they did a year ago.“Not only is it a historic level, but it’s increased at a historic pace,” said Mac Pinkerton, president of North American surface transportation for C.H. Robinson, which provides supply chain services to trucking companies and other customers. “We have never experienced anything like this before.”The sharp jump is putting immense pressure on trucking firms, especially smaller operations that are already suffering from driver shortages and scarce spare parts. Many can pass increased fuel costs on to their customers only after a few weeks or months.Eventually consumers will feel the effect in higher prices for all manner of goods. While hard to quantify, inflation will be most visible for big-ticket items like automobiles or home appliances, economists say.“Really, everything that we buy online or in a store is on a truck at some point,” said Bob Costello, the chief economist for American Trucking Associations.Trucks lining up on Terminal Island between the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles.Alex Welsh for The New York TimesManufacturers are also heavy users of diesel, leading to higher prices for factory goods. Food will go up in price because farm equipment generally runs on diesel.“It’s not just the fuel we put into pickups, tractors, combines,” said Chris Edgington, an Iowa corn farmer. “It’s a cost of transporting those goods to the farm, it’s a cost of transporting them away.”At the start of the pandemic, diesel prices dropped steeply as the global economy slowed, factories shut down and stores closed. But beginning in early 2021 there was a sharp rebound as truck and rail traffic resumed. Prices, which increased pretty steadily last year, picked up momentum in January as Russia massed troops near Ukraine and then invaded. Low stockpiles of the fuel, particularly in Europe, have added to the price pressures.“Diesel is the most sensitive, the most cyclical product in the oil industry,” said Hendrik Mahlkow, a researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany who has studied commodity prices. “Rising prices will distribute through the whole value chain.”Refineries, which turn crude oil into fuels that can be used in cars and trucks, have tried to play catch-up on both sides of the Atlantic in recent months. But they have not been able to make more diesel, gasoline and jet fuel fast enough. That is in part because refineries have closed in Europe and North America in recent years and more of the world’s fuels are being refined in Asia and the Middle East.Since January 2019, refinery capacity has declined 5 percent in the United States and 6 percent in Europe, according to Turner, Mason & Company, a consulting firm in Dallas.Europe is particularly vulnerable because it relies on Russia for as much as 10 percent of its diesel. Europe’s own diesel production is also dependent on Russia, which is a big supplier of crude oil to the continent. Some analysts say Europe may have to begin rationing diesel as early as next month unless the shortage eases.Diesel prices and Germany’s dependence on Russian energy were among the factors that on Wednesday prompted Germany’s Council of Economic Experts to cut its forecast for growth in 2022 by more than half, to 1.8 percent.Russian diesel has been flowing to Europe since the invasion last month, but traders, banks, insurance companies and shippers are increasingly turning away from the country’s diesel, oil and other exports.Several large European oil companies have announced that they are leaving Russia. TotalEnergies, the French oil giant, said this month that it would stop buying Russian diesel and oil by the end of the year.The market for oil and diesel is global, and companies can usually find another source if their main supplier can’t deliver. But no oil company or country can quickly make up for the loss of Russian energy.Saudi Arabia, for example, has not increased diesel exports because one of its largest refineries is undergoing maintenance. The kingdom and its allies in OPEC Plus have also refused to ramp up crude oil production because they are happy to have oil prices stay high. Russia belongs to the group and has significant sway over its fellow members.Christine Hemmel is a manager of a trucking company in Ober-Ramstadt, Germany, that has been in her family for four generations. Her family’s business has almost all the challenges that medium-size haulers have faced since the pandemic’s outbreak.The Russia-Ukraine War and the Global EconomyCard 1 of 6Rising concerns. More