Hurting Russia

I do not know if this is accurate or practical, but it is intriguing:

Russia is invading Ukraine right now, that much is fact. The United States doesn’t really like that, but there’s not much it can do short of starting a costly war. One idea that could actually work to hurt Russia does have an unintended side effect, though – it can make your drive way, way cheaper.

So far, President Obama has promised unspecified “costs” if Russia doesn’t back down from what amounts to basically an opportunist grab, but short of actually using an Ohio-class submarine for its intended purpose, there haven’t been many ideas that have been taken seriously. Boycott Russian natural gas? Most of Europe is still dependent on it. Ban the sale of Ladas? Most people won’t really care.

But one idea, which was first floated by economist Philip LeVerger and spotted by Steve LeVine over at Quartz, is absolutely palm-rubbingly genius. Russia’s economy is heavily dependent on sales of oil, and if you could push the price down, you can inflict some pretty significant economic damage.

But if only there was some way to do it. Maybe involving vast storage tanks in Texas and Louisiana? Take it away, Steve:

The tool is the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the 700-million-barrel underground cache of crude oil waiting in Texas and Louisiana for a rainy day. In an overnight note to clients, Verleger argues that if the US were to ship just 500,000 barrels a day of oil onto the market, it would drive down prices by about $10 a barrel and cost Russia about $40 billion in annual sales.

[Thanks to Mike R for the tip.]