Monday’s Barron’s opined that the 10 most uber-wealthy in Russia already took a $6.6 billion market-value hit due to the sanctions.

Are you surprised?

Barron’s also weighed-in with the idea that Russia needs $100-bbl oil to make its economy work and if oil declines to $75, the economic situation there will worsen. It’s already bad enough.

Poor Putin, right?

And, given the oil boom here, Barron’s thinks it is likely that oil will decline to $75 over the next five years; in other words, $75 may become the new ceiling, something I’ve been writing about for a year or so.

Me? I think oil may go lower earlier. I think that the market may easily overrun the supposed discipline of the supported spot price and that U.S. domestic oil could go strikingly lower, maybe $60 or less a barrel, but, heck, that’s only me—I have a long memory.

Russia is a spooky place. If you look at the last 10 years, some Russia investments have paid off hugely, if the investor sold at the right time (many investors forget that they have to sell winners in order to come out ahead, and, instead of parting with a security, they get attached to it; I have some friends who love Apple, but it can be dangerous to love any security—it clouds judgment).

At any rate, Russia is a volatile place to invest; it seems as if its citizens will tolerate Mr. Putin so long as the economy works and he projects a strong presence. I’m not so sure—if the economy tanks—that the citizens won’t rise up.

If you must invest in Russia, do it carefully.

Even ING’s Russia offering, a star some years, is about a volatile as volatile gets.

The chart below shows the A shares, year-by-year. 

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

YTD

5.91

70.94

67.52

30.69

-71.51

129.97

27.57

-29.15

16.51

4.77

-12.86

The Russian people seem to love discipline, but now that they also have a good idea about what freedom means, it will be interesting to see if they choose freedom over discipline if the economy stumbles badly.

Have a great week. I saw some green leaves today and am optimistic that spring is about to spring.