'Potemkin market opening'
Russia's stock market partially reopened Thursday for the first time since Russia's central bank shut it down to halt dizzying losses after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent Russian missiles and troops into Ukraine. The U.S. and other countries have slapped punishing sanctions on Russia, frozen its foreign reserves, and enacted other financial measures since Russia's stock market was suspended Feb. 25, and the Russian ruble has sunk precipitously.
Russia's benchmark MOEX index rose as much as 10 percent in early trading, but "the increase is unlikely to be interpreted as a sign that all is well with the Russian economy," The Wall Street Journal explains. For one thing, "only 33 shares out of 50 shares on the index were allowed to trade. To prevent a steep selloff, Russia's central bank banned short selling, and blocked foreigners, who make up a huge chunk of the market, from selling their shares. The Kremlin also directed a Russian sovereign wealth fund to buy around $10 billion in shares."
White House Deputy National Security Adviser Daleep Singh dismissed Russia's "Potemkin market opening" as "a charade." Between the Kremlin "artificially propping up the shares of companies that are trading" and prohibitions on short selling and foreigners selling their shares, this is "not a real market and not a sustainable model — which only underscores Russia's isolation from the global financial system," he wrote.