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Russia's booming stock market and currency, China's second quarter bounce and Nicolás Maduro's ability to hold power in Venezuela this year have all flown directly in the face of conventional wisdom about the power of the U.S. to cajole bad actors on the international stage through sanctions.

Why it matters: As the Trump administration mulls further punitive actions on China, Iran and a growing list of countries, there's growing evidence the U.S. is losing its coercive power.

That's been particularly notable in the case of Russia, which has been delivering solid returns to investors, despite facing U.S. sanctions for years.

  • Russia's stock market is booming this year, near record highs in ruble terms, with investors expecting fresh all-time highs by year-end.
  • Its ruble currency rose to its highest value against the dollar in 10 months last week.
  • Russian GDP is growing and its unemployment rate is near a historic low.

"They're supporting their economy by adjusting who they're trading with and the markets that they're going into," Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank, tells Axios. "We're seeing some of that with China too, where China is establishing more trade with Europe because of the ongoing trade spat with the U.S."

  • Gaffney says this has also been true of Iran and Venezuela, which were expected to crumble under the weight of U.S. economic sanctions earlier this year.

What to watch: The common thread is China, which has become the top trading partner with many of the world's countries and essentially ignores U.S. sanctions. Russia is in talks with Iran and has deepened its trading relationship with China while it profits from cheap Venezuelan oil imports the rest of the world is barred from receiving.

  • This could color the reaction Trump gets from China, Turkey and Iran at this week's G-20 meetings.

Go deeper: The grand fall of Venezuelan oil

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

5 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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