Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have been going on for years, but only recently has the conflict been brought to the majority of the American public’s attention. This is largely because of the conflict’s global economic impacts. Uncertainty over the conflict’s future is causing U.S. markets for goods to become more volatile, with price level increases for many commodities, most notably gas. These prices are expected to increase through the next months, especially if the situation in eastern Europe does not level out.
A cause for the rising gas prices is Russia's status as one of the world’s largest gas suppliers, and on March 8, president Biden signed an executive order banning oil exports from Russia. On the day the bill was passed, the nation’s average was $4.20 per gallon, breaking the record of the previous $4.11 per gallon 14 years ago. These prices have since risen to $4.35, and are now $4.289 per gallon and expected to continue to increase.
Although the rise in gas prices may seem the most drastic, many other goods have increased prices. An example of this is grocery items, a necessity for every household in America. Grocery items such as produce and other food items are already hard to come by, but for low income families, especially ones that have been affected by the pandemic, this makes it even tougher. Russia is a huge export of wheat, the largest in the world. The price of wheat has increased to $13 per bushel, which is almost a 50% increase. Although the U.S.does not usually directly import wheat from Russia, but, Russia's lack of exportation has rippled into more expensive wheat prices globally.
One example of another price increase in necessary products are computer chips. Computer chips have already become a rarity, due to the pandemic affecting supply chains, but are seemingly becoming even more scarce due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict as computer chip suppliers in the area become threatened. This has a huge impact on both the U.S. and the global economy, as computer chips are used in many different technologies. One example of a computer chip supplier affected by the conflict is a company called Cyroin, which is located in Odessa, a city that is on Russia’s radar for attacks. Since computer chips are already scarce and expensive, this will make all products using computer chips like cars, cell phones, and medical equipment also more scarce and expensive.
Increased prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created conflict in U.S. political discourse, particularly between the Republican and Democratic parties. Most Republicans are using the rising gas prices as a means against president Biden.“The blame for record-high gas prices lies solely at the feet of Joe Biden and House Democrats,” said Republican Congressman Tom Emmer. On the other hand, majority Democrats believe that Biden is not responsible for the record inflation, attributing it to the uncontrollable Russia-Ukraine conflict. In any case, these economic issues are only expected to worsen political polarization in the US.
Concerning as these increasing prices may be, they are only projected to keep rising due to uncertainty regarding the conflict’s end. At the same time, as important as the U.S. economy is, it is even more important to remember that the lives and freedoms of innocent Ukranian’s are being taken away.