18 March 2021

1) Griddy Energy, the Texas power retailer, filed for bankruptcy, becoming the latest casualty of the cold weather blast and sweeping blackouts that pushed electricity prices to historic highs. The company, after its customers received exorbitant power bills, blamed its downfall on Texas’s grid operator Ercot who is blamed for destroying Griddy’s business. Griddy is at least the third to file for bankruptcy. Ercot owes more than $29 million dollars, making the grid operator Texas’ largest unsecured creditor. Texas is unusual in the U.S. in that homeowners and businesses can choose from a number of power providers. Griddy charges wholesale prices instead of fixed ones, and knowing that rate structure would mean massive bills for its customers as power prices climbed, the company made the unusual move of pleading with customers to switch to another provider in mid-February, but some customers who didn’t switch in time were stuck with bills for thousands of dollars.

2) The world’s three biggest consumers of coal, the most dirty of the fossil fuels, are getting ready to boost usage so much that it’ll almost be as if the pandemic-induced drop in emissions never happened. The U.S. power plants will consume 16% more coal this year, and then an additional 3% in 2022. China and India, which together account for almost two-thirds of coal demand, have no plans to cut back in the near term. This means higher emissions, and in the U.S., the gains may undermine President Biden’s push to reestablish America as an environmental leader and raise pressure for him to quickly implement his climate agenda. Coal consumption at U.S. power plants is almost returning to 2019 levels. While in recent years, China has reduced the share of coal in their energy mix, total power consumption has risen, so its usage has also climbed. China has the world’s largest number of coal-fired power plants, so it’ll be tough to shift to alternatives. India is also a very long way from a clean grid, with coal continuing to account for around 70% of its electrical generation. Consumption at their power plants will rise 10% this year, and is set to increase every year through at least 2027.

3) Although little known to most people, sand is another natural resource becoming scarce. So China has launched a crackdown on illegal sand mining operations on the Yangtze river, which have made large parts of central China more vulnerable to drought. Sand mining in the river and its connecting lakes and tributaries has also affected shipping routes and made it harder for authorities to control summer floods.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 MAR 21:

Dow 33,015.37 up by 189.42
Nasdaq 13,525.20 up by 53.64
S&P 500 3,974.12 up by 11.41

10 Year Yield: up at 1.64%

Oil: down at $64.63

22 February 2021

1) There have been many reports about the crumbling weakness of American infrastructure, something that became apparent to many people with the recent hard freeze across the country. Example- in two hours Texas’s electric grid almost came crashing down. Electric demand for heat was soaring, then three coal plants followed quickly by a gas plant dropped out. If insufficient power came in, the grid wouldn’t be able to support the energy demand from customers and the other power plants that supply them, causing a cycle of dysfunction. As many as 5 million homes and businesses were abruptly thrust into frigid darkness for nearly four straight days as the crisis continued, ensnaring more than a dozen other states as far as away as California. Wind power was the first to go, as dense fog settled over turbine fleets, freezing on contact. Their blades iced over, so wind farms completely ceased. Then gas generation began declining. As the cold deepened, demand climbed sharply, hitting and then exceeding the state’s all-time winter peak. Gas well shut-ins in West Texas caused gas supplies to dip, reducing pressure at gas plants and forcing them offline, so virtually all of the generation falling off the grid came from coal or gas plants. In the span of 30 minutes, 2.6 gigawatts of capacity had disappeared from Texas’s power grid, enough to power half a million homes. Demand kept climbing, and plants kept falling offline. To stem the plunge, operators started shedding load. Operators removed 10 gigawatts of demand, essentially cutting power to 2 million homes in one fell swoop. As blackouts spread across the state, power was cut not only to homes and businesses but to the compressor stations that drive natural gas pipelines further cutting off the flow of gas supplies to power plants.

2) Now Maersk , the world’s largest shipping line, is taking a historic step toward not using fossil fuels for propulsion. About half of Maersk’s 200 biggest customers have set science-based or zero-carbon targets for their supply chains, or are in the process of doing so. The firm wants to have net-zero emissions from its operations by 2050, and helped found a research center focused on decarbonizing the industry. Getting hold of enough carbon-neutral fuel will be Maersk’s biggest challenge, given the current lack of availability.

3) Some experts are predicting that because of the rare convergence of three economic triggers, we are about to see a massive buying frenzy into the technology sector of the stock market. No details were shared.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 FEB 21:

Dow 31,494.32 up by 0.98
Nasdaq 13,874.46 up by 9.11
S&P 500 3,906.71 down by 7.26

10 Year Yield: up at 1.34%

Oil: down at $59.01

18 February 2021

1) Demand for natural gas is currently at an unprecedented level according to Atmos Energy, because of freezing rain, snow, ice and dangerous travel conditions. Atmos Energy is asking all of its customers and businesses to conserve as much energy as possible. The Dallas-based natural-gas-only company is one of the nation’s largest distributors, serving about three million customers in more than 1,400 communities in nine states. This request comes after a new Winter Storm Warning was issued for all of North Texas while millions in the state remain without power. Atmos Energy has offered their customers a number of suggestions on how they can limit their energy usage.

2) Texas produces more energy than any other state, yet in the midst of the arctic freeze gripping the central U.S., Texas is faced with insufficient energy for its citizens. The arctic freeze gripping the central U.S. is raising the specter of power outages in Texas. The deep freeze this week in the Lone Star state, is causing power demand to skyrocket. The people of Texas relies on electricity to heat many homes, while at the same time, natural gas, coal, wind and nuclear facilities in Texas have been knocked offline by the unthinkably low temperatures. This situation could have wide-reaching implications as the US power industry attempts to slash carbon emissions in response to the climate crisis and move away from fossil fuels. Texas has been hit with life-threatening blackouts. More than 4 million people in the state were without power early Tuesday. Authorities defended the controlled outages, called rolling blackouts, which kept the grid from collapsing. The situation raises the question that if a state like Texas is now having trouble meeting its energy requirements, then how will the other states fare as America moves to a green energy environment.

3) Motorola Solutions has consolidated its video security and AI video analytics production into a newly renovated manufacturing facility in Richardson Texas, with plans to expand staffing in the coming year. The new facility opened in January housing 250 employees, with plans to expand by at least another 50 this year. Motorola acquired the camera and analytics company Avigilon, for a reported $1 billion in February 2018 and the Fort Worth based license plate recognition camera and software maker Vigilant Solutions in January for $445 million. In March 2019, it bought voice-over IP dispatch console maker Avtec, then Watchguard, which designs and sells in-car video systems and police body cameras to law enforcement agencies. Two additional California-based companies Pelco and Scotland-based IndigoVision were also added to Motorola’s growing security abilities.

4) Stock market closings for – 17 FEB 21:

Dow 31,613.02 up by 90.27
Nasdaq 13,965.50 down by 82.00
S&P 500 3,931.33 down by 1.26

10 Year Yield: unchanged at 1.30%

Oil: up at $61.66

8 January 2020

1) Coal consumption in America dropped sharply last year, reaching its lowest level since 1975, with power plants switching to cheaper natural gas and renewables. This shift has cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10%, but other sources also contribute to growing planet warming pollution last year. The U.S. is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, as well as other greenhouse warming gases, contributing 14% of all annual greenhouse emissions.

2) The federal government is close to selling a group of nursing homes it took over eighteen months ago, a result of the biggest default in the history of a government mortgage insurance program which provides critical support to the nursing home industry. The previous owner defaulted on $146 million dollar worth of mortgages leaving the government to take possession of the facilities, which they have been working to find new owner-operators.

3) A new pizza making robot was unveiled at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronis Show) in Las Vegas, which attracts 200,000 people across the world. The machine is placed adjacent to the oven so pizzas automatically go in for cooking. The robot can make up to 300 12 inch customized pizzas an hour, while making consistent pies. Several companies are engaged in developing pizza robots including Little Caesar’s and Domino’s. The robots for the fast food industry is growing in response to demands for a minimum wage of $15 an hour for restaurant workers.

4) Stock market closings for – 7 JAN 202:

Dow                28,583.68    down    119.70
Nasdaq            9,068.58    down        2.88
S&P 500           3,237.18    down        9.10

10 Year Yield:    up   at    1.83%

Oil:    up   at    $63.21 

4 December 2019

1) Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal raised it’s ugly head again with the German public prosecutors raiding VW Wolfsburg headquarters looking for documents. The scandal broke in 2015, but there are still questions about newer engines which succeeded the diesel engines with fraudulent testing for emissions. So far, Volkswagen’s cheating test has cost the company about $33 billion dollars in fines, vehicle refits and legal costs.

2) Richmond California is moving to ban the export of coal through their port facilities citing coal dust pollution in parts of the town. Coming from western states such as Wyoming, the coal is shipped to China, India and other far east countries still making heavy use of coal fired electric generation plants. However, the city may be facing legal challenges against the city ban. Richmond, Stockton, Los Angeles and Long Beach are now the only major west coast ports that handle coal.

3) President Trump has suggested that the trade war with China could drag on for some time, that it might be better to wait until after the 2020 election to sign a trade agreement. The next deadline is 15 December when 15% levies on an additional $160 billion dollars in Chinese goods. The news cause another drop in the stock markets, in addition to the drop from news about metal tariffs on Brazil and Argentina.

4) Stock market closings for – 3 DEC 19:

Dow              27,502.81    down    280.23
Nasdaq           8,520.64    down      47.34
S&P 500          3,093.20    down      20.67

10 Year Yield:    down   at    1.71%

Oil:    up   at    $55.99

23 August 2019

1) President Trump’s suggestion of buying Greenland is bringing to light international interest in the world’s largest island because of its geopolitical importance. Since World War II, there has been a strategic interest as a result of Atlantic shipping lanes. But the island nation also has stocks of natural resources such as coal, zinc, copper, iron and rare minerals. Even China has made proposals to Greenland for economic development. Some think that Greenland also harbors vast reserves of oil.

2) Twenty-two city municipalities have had their computer systems hacked and taken ransom, all simultaneously which indicates the ransom attacks is by a single unknown entity. So far, more than forty municipalities have been digitally hijacked this year, including major cities such as Baltimore and Albany. Most attacks are upon small cities and towns who have limited monetary resources for strong cyberdefenses or backing up data. There are more ransom ware attacks simple because they work and pay so well.

3) Foreign oil companies are leaving Canada to the tune of $30 billion dollars in the last three years. Canada’s oil industry has struggled to recovered from the 2014 crash in global oil prices, an industry that accounts for one fifth of Canada’s exports. The lack of pipelines has seriously effected Canada’s heavy crude prices for years. Consequently, capital is draining out of the industry effecting overall production and hence revenues.

4) Stock market closings for – 22 AUG 19:

Dow             26,252.24         up    49.51
Nasdaq          7,991.39         up    28.82
S&P 500         2,922.95    down      1.48

10 Year Yield:   up   at    1.61%
Oil:    up   at    $55.39