Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder and CEO of Yale SOM’s Chief Executive Leadership Insitute (CELI), and CELI research director Steven Tian visited Washington, D.C., on August 10 at the invitation of the U.S. State Department to brief foreign press about the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy.
Sonnenfeld and Tian, who also led CELI’s high-profile work tracking companies’ withdrawal from Russia, discussed their recent research discussing the state of the Russian economy and evaluating claims that sanctions are causing agricultural shortages in the rest of the world.
“The Russian economy is in far direr straits than has been advertised from official cherry-picked releases of statistics,” Sonnenfeld told the journalists.
Tian added, “There is this myth, particularly in developing countries, that the United States has somehow created a global famine, that United States sanctions are leading to a collapse in agricultural products, soaring agricultural costs….contrary to Russian propaganda, wheat supplies this year—thanks to bumper crops from the United States, from Brazil, from Argentina, from several major wheat-producing countries, thanks to great weather—it’s actually record crop yields this year.”
A working paper co-authored by Sonnenfeld and Tian on the Russian economy has received wide attention in the media and more than 75,000 downloads from the Social Science Research Network—the fourth-most-downloaded paper of the last year and one of the most downloaded in the site’s history. While in Washington, they and members of their research team also met with senior officials at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the Treasury Department, the Commerce Department, the State Department, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We were told by four cabinet members and the chief economist of State that our work had single-handedly changed the zeitgeist in the administration as well as the narrative in the media on the truth of Putin’s faltering economic performance,” Sonnenfeld said later.