In brief

In brief

  • In this article, we survey some of the consequences of the war in Ukraine to date.
  • We also frame the critical uncertainties that will shape scenarios about the war’s economic and business impact.
  • We close with actions that organizations may consider to strengthen their outlook, regardless of the scenario that ultimately unfolds.


This page was updated with new information on April 20, 2022.

Michael Brueckner, Accenture's European Growth and Strategy Lead on some of the consequences of the war in Ukraine. See below for the latest data

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The war’s impact to date

The Ukraine invasion has had a deep human, economic and business impact.

A humanitarian disaster. In only a few weeks, thousands of lives have been lost. More than 4.9 million refugees have fled Ukraine to date and at least 7.1 million people have been displaced within the country.1 The growing humanitarian crisis has led to an influx of public and private aid. On March 10, the US Congress, for example, approved US$13.6 billion in emergency spending for Ukraine.2 The E.U. has announced €10 billion (US$11 billion) in aid for Ukrainian refugees.3

The humanitarian impact of the Ukraine invasion

The war has led to a dramatic increase of refugees in Europe.

Unpredictable economic and cyber conflict. Within one week of the invasion, governments around the world passed a range of sanctions. Met with retaliatory countermeasures by Moscow, the sanctions have impacted the flow of some goods and services. The sanctions also could trigger retaliatory cyberattacks. Accenture Cyber Threat Intelligence has observed volunteer hacktivists and cyber criminals threaten to attack Western critical infrastructure and leak sensitive, stolen data.4 National governments continue to reinforce the message that organizations worldwide should remain vigilant for renewed Russian activity designed for maximum service disruption.5

Significant organizational challenges. The sanctions triggered actions by many businesses beyond governmental requirements. More than 750 companies have announced plans to suspend, scale back or close their operations in Russia, affecting, among others, at least 3,500 retail outlets across the country.6 Supply-chain disruptions could be even more substantial: More than 2,100 US companies and at least 1,200 EU companies have Tier 1 suppliers in Russia. And those numbers expand sharply for sub-contractors: more than 190,000 US companies and at least 109,000 EU companies have Tier 2 and 3 suppliers in Russia.7

Economic and business impact

The current view among leading forecasters is that the war will lead to a material deceleration in growth.8 Under a baseline scenario, Oxford Economics forecasts that the world will avoid recession, but global GDP will be 1.1 percentage points lower in 2022, relative to pre-war forecasts made in January.9

Beyond the scale and duration of the conflict itself, at least four uncertainties create risks that could lead to very different scenarios unfolding:

Before the invasion, Russia supplied around 10% of the world’s crude oil, as well as almost 40% of the European Union’s natural gas. The country is also the top exporter of nickel (used in car batteries) and palladium (used in car-exhaust systems).10

Meanwhile, Ukraine and Russia together supply 26% of global exports of wheat, 16% of corn exports and 30% of barley exports.11 Supply disruptions of these key commodities have led to considerable price volatility. Over the past month, oil prices have reached as high as US$130/barrel, while European gas prices climbed above €200/MWh (US$220/MWh).

A prolonged supply shock could ripple across industries, driving inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions. Energy price increases, for example, would impact most industries via direct energy costs or input cost increases (e.g., steel costs would rise due to pricier energy; costs for automotive parts would rise due to pricier steel). Inflationary pressures could also be felt in sectors affected by restricted trade in other products. For example, high wheat and grain prices may increase prices of foodstuffs. High metal and mineral prices may increase prices of electronics and industrial equipment.

Even before the war, inflation had hit multi-decade highs in the US and Europe, driving up costs for consumers. Accelerated inflation from soaring energy and other commodity prices can impact consumer confidence and spending. In March, the University of Michigan’s measure of US consumer sentiment dropped to its lowest reading since September 2011. Declines are also visible in the EU consumer sentiment survey.12 In parallel, inflationary pressure may accelerate the rise of wage inflation in some countries and industries. The industries that could be most impacted by wage inflation are those in which labor represents a large part of their overall cost structure.

Many commentators have argued that the invasion and sanctions may contribute to greater market fragmentation and deglobalization.13 A decline in global integration had already been a prevailing trend prior to the war. World trade (relative to GDP) has been on the decline since 2008.14 Tariffs and other barriers to trade have been increasing. The number of industrial policy interventions made by governments over the past five years increased by more than 200%.15

Some, though, have expressed hope for an alternative path. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organization, has urged a move for “re-globalization,” saying, “Deeper, more diversified international markets remain our best bet for supply resilience.”16

Some have argued that the conflict could make the green-energy transition more challenging, at least in the near-term.17 The crisis has brought energy security back into conversation alongside sustainability. Some European countries and states in the US have introduced measures to cut energy taxes and compensate households for higher gas prices.18 But there are also signs that some countries may double down on the energy transition and amplify incentives to expand greener energy production.19


Potential scenarios for the war’s impact on the economy and business

These and other uncertainties lead to a wide range of potential scenarios for the impact of the crisis on the global economy and business in the near-term. At least three scenarios with different levels of impact over the next year can be considered:

Controlled impact

  • Sanctions do not escalate further and may even be scaled back as part of a negotiated truce, alleviating supply disruptions.
  • Commodity prices return to pre-war levels.
  • Consumer and business confidence increases, and companies and people return to pre-war investment plans and spending.

Ongoing impact

  • The supply of key commodities continues to be disrupted throughout 2022. An oil and gas embargo remains limited to a select number of countries.
  • Commodity supply shocks lead to a sustained rise in prices in the near term.
  • Consumers cut back on some nonessentials and businesses focus on increasing the efficiency of their operations.

Protracted impact

  • A wider oil and gas embargo leads to significant structural supply disruption.
  • Commodity prices remain elevated and volatile into 2023.
  • Sustained price rises reduce consumer spending power, contributing to a significant decline in consumer and business confidence and slowdown in growth.

View All

The economic impact of these scenarios, of course, will potentially vary widely by country and region. Compared to the US, Europe’s stronger trade linkages to Russia and heavier reliance on Russian energy imports make it more vulnerable to a growth slowdown. Oxford Economics estimates that, relative to pre-war forecasts, Eurozone GDP would decline by 1.1 to 2.9 percentage points in 2022. European countries with higher dependency on Russian oil and gas would be more significantly impacted. In the event of a protracted impact scenario, Eurozone inflation could rise by 4.1 percentage points in 2022 relative to pre-war forecasts.20

Potential economic impact of the war in Ukraine

Potential economic impact of the war in Ukraine: the Eurozone’s trade relationships make it vulnerable to a slowdown and the U.S. could be impacted by the ripple effects of higher prices.
Potential economic impact of the war in Ukraine: Inflation is forecast to rise in the Eurozone and in the U.S.

VIEW THE POTENTIAL ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE WAR IN UKRAINE GRAPHS

Beyond Europe and the US, net oil and commodity importers like Japan and India would be affected by a sustained period of high oil and commodity prices. Emerging-market commodity importers in Asia and Africa would be particularly exposed to higher prices. These nations also would be affected more by the strain on food supply chains. At least 50 countries rely on Russia and Ukraine for 30% or more of their wheat supply—among the most reliant are emerging economies in Asia and northern Africa.22

Different industries could also feel the war’s impact to different extents. High oil and gas prices mean energy-intensive manufacturing sectors may be most affected. In the US chemicals sector, for example, energy costs represent 35% of total input costs; in Europe, they represent 21%.23 Shortages of wheat and other commodities could affect the consumer goods and service industry, where raw materials represent 25% of total input costs in Europe and 26% in the US.24

Specific pockets within supply chains may have greater exposure to the crisis, too. Some car manufacturers, for instance, have been closing assembly lines due to shortages of wiring harnesses manufactured in Ukraine.25

Operating in an uncertain world

As the shock of the invasion reverberates through the world economy, executives can consider how to position their businesses to minimize the impact. Not every company may be affected in the same way. Organizations that operate in Ukraine and Russia have been most immediately affected and are focused on the welfare of their people. For organizations outside the conflict zone, the focus has been on complying with sanctions, responding to supply chain disruptions and assessing the impact on customers.

When facing such unforeseen challenges, many leaders aim to strengthen the resilience of their organizations by prioritizing adaptability. Digitizing enterprise functions at speed and in parallel, rather than sequentially, therefore seems essential for many companies. The premium on agility will intensify the focus on compressed transformation. Regardless of how the situation evolves, companies can consider taking a series of simultaneous actions around strategy, systems, supply chains, people and ecosystems.

Uncertainty: The new reality for businesses

For leaders and their organizations, there is no return to the relative comfort and safety of the not-so-distant past. The war in Ukraine has made clear that many of the old, comfortable certainties on which business relied are no longer with us.

Going forward, success may ultimately depend on how well leaders adapt to the demands of this new, testing environment. More than ever, their resolve will be critical.

If you would like to know more about moving forward in the face of change, please get in touch.

Contact us

Disclaimer

The material in this document reflects information available at the point in time at which this document was prepared as indicated by the date provided above, however the global situation is rapidly evolving and the position may change. This content is provided for general information purposes only, does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances, and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this document and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals.  Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture.

This document refers to marks owned by third parties. All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners. No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied.

1Ukraine Refugee Situation,” UNHCR (2022) as of April 18th 2022

2Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022,” US government website (2022.); “Visualizing the $13.6 billion in US Spending on Ukraine,” The New York Times (2022).

3War in Ukraine: MEPs Unlock Emergency Funds for Refugees,” European Parliament (2022).

4Russia Ukraine Crisis Overview,” Accenture (2022); “Global Incident Report: Russia-Ukraine Crisis March 25,” Accenture (2022); “Global Indirect Report: Threat Actors Divide Along Ideological Lines over the Russia-Ukraine Conflict on Underground Forums,” Accenture (2022).

5White House tells CEOs that Russian Cyber Attack on US is ‘coming’,” Financial Times (2022).

6Over 600 Companies Have withdrawn from Russia—but Some Remain,” Yale School of Management (2022); “Russia’s war is creating corporate winners and losers,” The Economist (2022).

7 Accenture Research analysis of Interos and FactSet. 2,100+ US companies and 1,200+ EU companies have Tier 1 suppliers in Russia. Those numbers expand sharply when considering sub-contractors: 190,000+ US companies and 109,000+ EU companies have Tier 2 and 3 suppliers in Russia.

8 Estimates from Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan 2022 GDP & Inflation Outlooks, as well as the OECD, IMF, and European Commission. Data as of 21st March 2022.

9 Oxford Economics’ Global Economics Database. Pre-conflict refers to forecast as of December 2022.

10A 10-Point Plan to Reduce the European Union’s Reliance on Russian Natural Gas,” International Energy Agency (2022); “Russian supplies to global energy markets”, International Energy Agency (2022). “Russia’s war is creating corporate winners and losers,” The Economist (2022).

112021/22 Grain Trade in Flux Amid Russia-Ukraine Conflict,” US Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (2022).

12 Accenture Research analysis of University of Michigan Consumer Survey for US; and Consumer Sentiment Survey for EU.

13 See, for example: Adam S. Posen, “The end of globalization?,” Foreign Affairs (2022); Martin Wolf, “Russia’s war will remake the world,” Financial Times (2022); Josh Zumbrun, “Economic blacklist of Russia marks new blow for globalization,” The Wall Street Journal (2022).

14 The World Bank database

15 Accenture Research analysis of Global Trade Alert database, accessible at: https://www.globaltradealert.org/. Data is adjusted for reporting lags, with industrial policy interventions including: export supports, import curbs, licensing, quotas, subsidies and tariffs.

16DG Okonjo-Iweala tells sustainability conference “trade is part of the solution to challenges we face,” World Trade Organization (2022).

17 See, for example: Vigya Sharma, “This is how the conflict between Ukraine and Russia could impact climate change,” The World Economic Forum (2022); Leslie Hook and Neil Hume, “Will the Ukraine war derail the green energy transition?,” Financial Times (2022); Patricia Cohen and Stanley Reed, “Will war make Europe’s switch to clean energy even harder?,” The New York Times (2022).

18 See, for example: Arne Delfs and Carolynn Look, “Germany slashes fuel tax in $16.5 billion energy package,” Bloomberg (2022). “Maryland, Georgia pause gas taxes with prices near record highs,” The Wall Street Journal (2022). Chiara Albanese and Alberto Brambilla, “Italy could revive coal plants to break Russia energy dependence,” Bloomberg (2022).

19 See, for example: “Netherlands ramps up plan for doubling offshore wind capacity by 2020,” Reuters (2022); “The Med gets first offshore wind farm as Italy vows energy revolution,” France 24 (2022); “Germany to speed renewables push due to Ukraine crisis,” Reuters (2022).

20 Based on mapping Oxford Economics’ World Economic Prospects estimates to our scenarios. Data as of 8th April 2022. Pre-conflict refers to forecast as of Jan 2022.

21 Based on mapping Oxford Economics’ World Economic Prospects estimates to our scenarios. Data as of 8th April 2022. Pre-conflict refers to forecast as of Jan 2022.

22Ukraine Invasion May Lead to Worldwide Food Crisis, Warns UN,” The Guardian (2022).

23 Accenture Research analysis of OECD World Input Output tables.

24 Accenture Research analysis of OECD World Input Output tables.

25Europe’s Automakers Scramble to Replace Ukrainian Auto Parts,” Automotive News (2022).

26Business Futures: Signals of Change,” Accenture (2021).

27State of Cybersecurity Resilience 2021: How aligning security and the business creates cyber resilience,” Accenture (2021).

28Accenture and MIT Team to Create a Supply Chain Resilience Stress Test,” Accenture (2020).

29Business Futures: Signals of Change,” Accenture (2021).


Michael Brueckner

Senior Managing Director, Growth & Strategy Lead, Europe


Kathleen O’Reilly

Lead – Strategy


Svenja Falk

Managing Director, Accenture Research


Michael Moore

Principal Director – Thought Leadership, Accenture Research

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