Economic sanctions and other forms of economic coercion have become the “go to” response for both the executive branch and Congress over the past decades to punish or compel policy change. Today, the United States applies broad economic sanctions against North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and the Crimea, with targeted sanctions leveled against many other states.
In the past half year, Washington has upped the ante, immobilizing the central banks of Afghanistan and Russia and sending their economies into freefall. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has worked with European partners to sanction the Russian Central Bank and prevent it from softening the blow of U.S. sanctions by cutting off hundreds of billions of dollars it holds around the world. And last August, the United States froze over $7 billion dollars of foreign reserves belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank when the Taliban took control of the country. Half of that money now sits in a third party trust while the other half is being fought over in court by 9/11 victims and their families who hold the Taliban responsible for the attack.
What happens when the assets of a central bank are seized or sanctioned overnight? Can fledgling economies survive this level of economic shock and how? Once a country’s banking sector is taken offline is it possible to revive it or is the damage irreversible? What does this mean for the dollar’s global dominance? And what is the future of the U.S. Federal Reserve as the “central bank of central banks,” given this recent record of action?
Join us for a panel that cuts through the economic and legal complexity of sanctions and central banks to explore the latest iteration and most robust of U.S. sanctions policy. The discussion will feature Adam Tooze, professor of economic history at Columbia University; Delaney Simon, senior analyst at International Crisis Group, and William Byrd, senior expert at the United States Institute of Peace. Adam Weinstein, research fellow at the Quincy Institute, will moderate.