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Morning Brew


Good morning. Today, as virtually everyone will remind you, is 2/22/22, made all the more special because it falls on a Tuesday (aka Twosday).

While we’re not the superstitious type, many people see Twosday as the cosmos smiling down on them. Officials in Clark County, NV, which is home to Las Vegas, expect today to be their busiest wedding day ever. The previous record holder? 7/7/07.

Neal Freyman, Matty Merritt, Max Knoblauch

Alexei Nikolsky/TASS via Getty Images

As Russia moves troops into Ukraine, Western leaders are readying economic sanctions to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his aggression.

Those sanctions will be separate and far more severe than the ones President Biden introduced yesterday. US lawmakers have pledged to unleash the “mother of all sanctions” in the event of a Russian invasion, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested on Sunday that the sanctions will include cutting off Russian companies from using US dollars and British pounds, hitting them “very, very hard.”

But while the West is swinging back its battering ram, Putin has had time to build fortifications. For the last several years, he’s been bolstering Russia’s economic defenses in anticipation for this exact moment in a strategy some have dubbed “Fortress Russia.”

Building Fortress Russia

If you want to sanction-proof your economy, the first place to start is padding your foreign exchange reserves, which are stockpiles of foreign currencies held by your central bank. Among its other uses, foreign currency can be deployed to preserve liquidity during an economic crisis.

  • Russia’s recently grown its foreign currency reserves to $631 billion, good for fourth place in the world.

It’s also taken a number of other steps to blunt the impact of sanctions:

  • Russia’s trimmed expenses to put itself on sturdier financial footing.
  • It built its own financial messaging system in case it gets blocked from the one used around the world, called SWIFT.
  • It’s developed homegrown industries to reduce imports from the West, most famously Russian Parmesan cheese (keeping an open mind about this).

Also worth noting is that Russia supplies Europe with 40% of its gas imports. So sanctions hitting Russia’s energy sector could boomerang back to hurt the West and destabilize global energy markets.

Big picture: Despite the sanction-proofing campaign, Putin’s Fortress Russia is not impenetrable. Geopolitical experts say that the types of sanctions being prepared, which could block Russia from importing critical tech materials or cut off Russian banks from accessing the US dollar, will be enough to overcome Putin’s defenses and cause significant and immediate damage to the Russian economy.

And investors are preparing for the worst: Russia’s benchmark stock index closed down 11% yesterday for its biggest single-day drop since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.—NF

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Truth Social launched. Former President Trump’s Twitter-like social media app shot up to No. 1 on Apple’s App Store in its first day available, but it was a bumpy ride: Users encountered challenges signing up for an account and others were put on a waitlist. Truth Social, led by former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, is one of several right-learning social apps that have launched in recent years, along with Gettr, Parler, and the more established Rumble.

Emergency powers staying in Canada…for now. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said the emergency powers he controversially invoked last week are still needed for at least the next few days, because even though protests have disbanded from Ottawa, the “situation is still fragile.” Trudeau said there were signs that truckers might attempt another occupation of the Canadian capital.

The UK scraps Covid rules. Just like Britons have learned to live with rain, they’re about to learn to live with Covid. The UK became the first major Western economy to eliminate government Covid restrictions, such as a requirement to self-isolate once testing positive. Critics, including the British Medical Association, say it’s a premature move that fails to protect the most vulnerable.

John Ra/Partners In Health

Harvard Medical School professor, anthropologist, and global health advocate Dr. Paul Farmer unexpectedly died in his sleep in Rwanda at 62. Farmer, whose mission was to bring high-quality health care to low-income nations, created hospitals in Rwanda and Haiti and co-founded the global nonprofit Partners in Health.

In addition to his nonprofit, Farmer brought livesaving HIV drugs to Haiti, raised millions of dollars for community health care facilities around the world, wrote 12 books, and won a number of awards, including the $1 million Berggruen Prize in 2020 for reshaping our understanding of “what it means to treat health as a human right.”

If Farmer’s CV spurs an existential crisis as you think about your own day job, that wasn’t his intention.

Tracy Kidder, the author of a book about Farmer’s inspirational work, Mountains Beyond Mountains, said Farmer “was the kind of person whose example can irritate you by making you feel you’ve never done anything as important, and yet, in his presence, those kinds of feelings tended to vanish.”

Also…you can learn more about Farmer in the 2017 documentary Bending the Arc.—MM

Investing long term to reach your financial goals can be a fantastic idea. Doing so while supporting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues? Even better. The thing is, manually building a diversified portfolio with companies operating sustainably can feel overwhelming. 

That’s why Fidelity just launched the Fidelity Sustainable Multi-Asset Fund, a diversified, multi-asset fund designed for investors who want long-term growth with a focus on sustainable investments.

The fund is comprised of Fidelity’s sustainable active and index funds, some of which leverage Fidelity’s ratings system to better pinpoint a company’s long-term outlook on ESG issues. 

What’s great is that the fund’s all-in-one approach helps you achieve broad diversification with just one investment. 

This means you’re positioned for portfolio diversification AND long-term growth, all the while supporting the crucial sustainable movement. Now that’s what we call forward thinking. 

Learn more about the Fidelity Sustainable Multi-Asset Fund here. 

Simon Leviev, known popularly as the “Tinder swindler,” is expelled from Athens, Greece, in 2019. Tore Kristiansen/AFP via Getty Images.

Take a seat, outdoor dining—the hottest trend in dating is being scammed out of thousands of dollars by a professional fraudster. New data released by the FTC reveals that romance scams reached an all-time high in 2021, up nearly 80% from 2020.

That stat might explain why The Tinder Swindler, Netflix’s latest true-crime doc about a man accused of conning women on Tinder out of $10 million, has led the global Netflix charts since it debuted on February 2.

According to the FTC, people have lost $1.3 billion to romance scams in the last five years—$547 million of which came (or left) in 2021. It’s a steep jump from 2017, when losses from such scams totaled $87 million.

  • 56,000 romance scams were reported to the FTC in 2021.
  • The biggest romance scam losses were paid out in crypto—$139 million in 2021.
  • The median individual loss for people scammed out of crypto by a catphish: $9,770

While the highest individual losses were incurred by people 70 and older (with median individual losses of $9,000) the FTC warned that savvy scammers have had success with every age bracket. Even screentime champions in the 18–29 bracket reported 10x the amount of scams from 2017 to 2021.—MK

Marinha Portuguesa

Stat: The fire on a cargo ship carrying Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini cars could cost Volkswagen Group at least $155 million and other automakers about $246 million, Russell Group estimated yesterday. Efforts to rein in the fire last weekend were complicated by the fact that many of the cars on board are electric vehicles with lithium-ion batteries, which require specialized firefighting equipment.

Quote: “This is a bear that has lost all fear of people.”

A 500-pound black bear known as Hank the Tank has made himself at home in South Lake Tahoe, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Peter Tira, told the NYT. Hank has broken into at least 28 homes and ballooned to his chonky size after snacking on human food and garbage. A typical black bear in the western US weighs 100–300 lbs.

Read: Ikea’s race for the last of Europe’s old-growth forest. (The New Republic)

  • Australia opened its borders to international travelers for the first time in nearly two years.
  • Colombia’s top court decriminalized abortions in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, highlighting the changing views of reproductive rights in majority-Catholic Latin American countries.
  • Juwan Howard, the men’s basketball coach at Michigan, was suspended for the remainder of the regular season after hitting Wisconsin’s assistant coach following Sunday’s game.
  • Meet Sofía Jirau, the first Victoria’s Secret model with Down syndrome.

It’s Twosday, 2/22/22, and we’ve got some very im-poo-tant news to float your way: The East River in NYC has a surprise sojourner—a gigantic floating up and down the river to celebrate *all* of the number 2s on this special day. Courtesy of Charmin, the #1 brand for your #2s, you can check out the ’s river ride here.

Inflation doesn’t usually mean good things, but the Motley Fool just found an under-the-radar stock pick that’s double-hedged against it. This one’s beaten inflation by 52+ times (as of 2/14/22), and you can access it for free here.*

Cue the #2 crew . We can’t hold it any longer! It’s time to celebrate the most s-two-pendous day of your lifetime: 2/22/22 Day. Charmin is hosting an extra-fun celebration for this special day where you can turn yourself into a here.*

Putting science to good use: A thread of what historical figures would look like as modern people, made possible by AI. That flow on Van Gogh though…

Take the anxiety out of money: This weekly newsletter features money challenges, free downloadable budget and savings templates, and judgment-free advice to help you live a happier life while sticking to your long-term goals.

Government web traffic: This dashboard shows how many people are on government websites right now, and which sites are most popular.

*This is sponsored advertising content.

Brew Mini: Ease back into the workweek with today’s Mini, which will be slightly easier than Thursday’s. Play it here.

Famous duos

To celebrate Twosday, let’s quiz you on famous duos. We’ll give you the first and last initials of both people in the duo, and you have to give their full names.

  1. P.S. and A.G.
  2. F.B. and S.G.
  3. T.F. and A.P.
  4. W.B. and C.M.
  5. R.M. and J.C.

Will Varner

…doing your taxes the way that works for you and your needs. This is a stressful time, but that’s why we created the Money Scoop Tax Guide. Use it as a beacon and tax season will never be stressful again.

We’ll be publishing new articles from now through the April 18 filing deadline (yes, not April 15 this year) to help make filing your taxes easier than a film history class.

Check out the Money Scoop Tax Guide here.

This editorial content is supported by TaxAct.

  1. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel
  2. Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee
  3. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
  4. Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger
  5. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet

✢ A Note From Fidelity

Before investing, consider the funds’ investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. Contact Fidelity for a prospectus, offering circular or, if available, a summary prospectus containing this information. Read it carefully. 

The fund bears all risks of investment strategies employed by the underlying funds, including the risk that the underlying funds will not meet their investment objectives. 

Application of FMR’s ESG ratings process and/or its sustainable investing exclusion criteria may affect the fund’s exposure to certain issuers, sectors, regions, and countries and may affect the fund’s performance depending on whether certain investments are in or out of favor. 

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC. © 2021 FMR LLC. All rights reserved. 


Written by
Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch, and Matty Merritt

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