US Treasury Department Eases Sanctions on Rusal – Is this Trump Or Something Else?
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US Treasury Department Eases Sanctions on Rusal – Is this Trump Or Something Else?

The US government’s sanctions against Russians who interfered in the October 2016 US election seem to be having some impact.  The most recent round of sanctions – directly against bizillionaire Oleg Deripaska – through his Rusal aluminum company on April 6 - has caused that company’s almost total inability to sell their product. The company has lost half of its equity value this month alone.

Trump has, time and time again, acted to stymie the US Treasury’s efforts to punish the Russians for their interference in the United States, most recently crossing paths with Nikki Haley after she announced that the US would be imposing new sanctions for Russia’s role in Syria.  It is clear that he doesn’t want possible materials they may hold to see the light of day.  It is also likely Trump doesn’t want Putin to expose the role that he, Wilbur Ross and others played in assisting wealthy Russians to evade the Magnitsky Act in 2012 and 2013 (although these action may very well come to light in the course of the investigation into Michael Cohen’s activities).

This morning the Treasury Department acted to ease sanctions against Rusal, and even indicated that they would consider removing sanctions.  It seems possible that Trump’s hand could be at play here?

But, the timing leads me to believe that it might be more than just Trump exercising influence over Mnuchin, again (and Mnuchin bending over, again).  The reality is that sanctions against Rusal have not just damaged the company’s ability to sell aluminum in the US, Europe and Japan, but have also, apparently, imperiled secured loans guaranteeing offtake through facility accounts (held by the three major French banks) and now threatens, as well, access of German car manufacturers to aluminum at reasonable prices needed to be competitive.

As Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel suddenly race to Washington this week, it seems that they want to get here not so much for Melania’s state dinner, but far more to save their banking system and their auto industries.

Suddenly, Mnuchin may be as incentivized by the need to help set all this right, as he surely must be to save Trump.

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to financial literacy and bank transparency. Since co-founding this website in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.
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