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

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

9 February 2021

1) The 141 year old Chevron Corp. has built a $170 billion dollar fossil fuels empire that has made it synonymous with the oil and gas industry. Chevron, and many other petrochemical companies, may not be ‘oil-first’ companies in 2040. The climate crisis is forcing oil companies, large and small, to rethink their once reliable business models. Facing political and shareholder pressure, BP (British Petroleum), Shell and other European oil majors see the writing on the wall, announcing plans to gradually retreat from fossil fuels. Recently BP released a report forecasting that recoverable oil reserves will be as little as one fifth of today’s levels by 2050. Oil companies are embracing clean energy including electric vehicle charging and renewable energy. But Chevron is not banking on solar and wind energy.

2) The era of gasoline powered automobiles is coming to an end faster than anyone expected. One of the questions that has long plagued automobile executives was whether motorists would be willing to switch to electric vehicles that typically require hours to charge. Automakers are forging ahead with plans to convert the majority of new car and light truck sales to electric by the 2030s. Batteries for power are so much more efficient, and there’s so many less moving parts, that there is less maintenance and repairs of cars. The only thing that holds it back is people are afraid they can’t take long road trips. But once they’ve shorten the charge to minutes and not hours, that’s a game changer. The production costs of electric vehicles are close to those of gasoline powered vehicles, and could go even lower. However, the fast chargers can cost $100,000 each. In addition, upgrading the power grid to handle the increased demand from electric vehicles is likely to be costly.

3) Technological investments has propelled Mexico in another direction giving the country a boost to being a most promising tech scene in Latin America. In turn, the US technology industry is taking advantage of this landscape to solve its shortage of qualified technological labor. Mexico has built a ‘tech hub’ of three cities- Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City, each having its own specialties and advantages that makes them unique. Mexico has several top tech universities, which is the keystone to being a tech hub. There are a lot of advantages to hiring remote workers in Mexico in addition to the savings U.S. companies will see.

4) Stock market closings for – 8 FEB 21:

Dow 31,385.76 up by 237.52
Nasdaq 13,987.64 up by 131.35
S&P 500 3,915.59 up by 28.76

10 Year Yield: down at 1.16% up by

Oil: up at $58.05

26 January 2021

1) Amid rising doubts, both with the Republicans and Democrats, of passing President Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package, some economists call the bill a good step that will help America’s struggling economy and warning that if not passed, then the nation would likely reverted to a recession in early 2021. The $1.9 trillion dollar coronavirus stimulus proposal is designed to jump-start the nation’s sputtering economy as well as accelerate vaccine distribution to control the deadly pandemic. Presently, the plan calls for a one-time $1,400 direct payment to eligible Americans, which would be in addition to the $600 check sent out this month, making a total payment of $2,000. Additionally, there is a supplemental unemployment benefit of $400 a week, up from the present $300 a week.

2) It’s considered that President Biden’s early actions in office will have effects on oil’s outlook, both short and long term. The first actions were revoking approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and rejoined the Paris climate agreement. Biden administration’s aim is to reduce long-term oil demand as the move away from fossil fuels accelerates. But if all the promises made by the President this first year are kept, oil demand in 2021 is expected to get a 350,000 barrel-per-day boost. The cancelling of the Keystone pipeline is likely to be muted as other world markets take up the production, because Iran and Venezuela have removed about three million barrels per day production from the current market, with other middle east producers are also cutting back on their production.

3) As the demand for fossil fuels is being limited, people are wondering if the electric car’s moment has arrived at last? While rapid advancement in electric cars and batteries is evident, a shortage of electric car chargers is one of the hurdles EVs face to displace the gas-powered vehicles. Presently, transportation accounts for more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Still, the popularity of EVs and hybrid vehicles is already surging. Yet, despite an avalanche of promising news, the shift away from gas-fueled cars remains stubbornly marginal with green vehicles being just 2 percent of the cars sold in the United States. There are electric Hummers, an electric Mustang, and an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle, with car manufacturers planning to triple the number of non-gas-powered models by 2024 to 203. Ford Motor Co. plans an electric version of its popular F150 pickup. Still roughly 1.5 billion gas-powered cars and trucks are still in operation.

4) Stock market closings for – 25 JAN 21:

Dow 30,960.00 down by 36.98
Nasdaq 13,635.99 up by 92.93
S&P 500 3,855.36 up by 13.89

10 Year Yield: down at 1.04%

Oil: up at $52.88

20 January 2021

1) There are growing fears of another stimulus package as the national debt grows. One measure of unemployment suggests Biden’s $1.9 trillion dollar stimulus plan may do more harm than good. The U-6 unemployment rate, a less popular reading than the commonly cited U-3, suggests additional fiscal support could be unnecessary. The gauge (which includes those only partially participating in the labor force) currently is at 11.7%. Five of the past six recessions saw higher readings. The coronavirus pandemic initially pushed the U-6 rate to a record-high of 22.9% in April, but easy monetary conditions and the $2.2 trillion dollar stimulus package brought the rate down in a matter of months. Still, there are serious questions about the long term stability of the world economics as nations struggle to pay off these huge national debts.

2) A new Covid-19 variant has been discovered in Brazil adding to the two newly emerged variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa. Brazil is one of the worst affected countries by the virus, where more people have died of the virus than anywhere else outside the United States. An urgent COVID warning says the worst months are still ahead, and is expected to get more people sicker faster. Infections and deaths are expected to continue increasing.

3) President-elect Joe Biden has an ambitious environmental agenda, with a principle goal of transitioning away from using fossil fuels. There are many questions just how this climate plan could affect the oil and gas industry in America. The new requirements include disclosure of climate risks from public companies, a commitment to end new drilling permits for federal lands, and to eliminate tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Tougher methane regulations to give incentives for Americans to buy cars that do not run on gasoline. It’s not just the big oil companies which can be hurt, for there are thousands and thousands of small companies making up the supply chain businesses, as well as the small independent wildcatters who are producing oil. But while oil is slowly recovering with prices above $50 a barrel, it is all in jeopardy if these proposals go into effect. Biden’s proposals could face stiff challenges from Texas officials and the oil and gas industry itself.

4) Stock market closings for – 19 JAN 21:

Dow 30,930.52 up by 116.26
Nasdaq 13,197.18 up by 198.68
S&P 500 3,798.91 up by 30.66

10 Year Yield: down at 1.09%

Oil: up at $53.17

18 January 2021

1) One Chinese province, Heilongjiang, with more than 37 million, has declared an emergency state to snuff out a handful of Covid-19 cases, as China moves decisively to contain infections. China had largely brought the coronavirus under control since its emergence in Wuhan late in 2019, however in recent weeks China has seen smatterings of cases, prompting localize lock downs, immediate travel restrictions and widespread testing of tens of millions of people. China is trying to squash the virus ahead of next month’s Lunar New Year festival, when hundreds of millions of people are due to travel across the country. Those highly anticipated annual journeys are often the only time for many migrant workers to see their families.

2) Biden has promised to extend the pause on student loan payments during his first day in office. Here are other steps the new administration could take for student debt relief. Forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt for each person, but it’s unclear of the time frame to do so. Also, it is unclear on whether Biden can use executive powers to cancel student debt or if only the Congress can do it. On day one Biden will direct the Department of Education to extend the student loan forbearance program, the first promise the president-elect has made in combating the $1.6 trillion student debt crisis. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is pushing for $50,000 to be forgiven.

3) Scientist warns that civilization is on the precipice of a ‘ghastly future’ that humanity has gravely underestimated the effects of biodiversity decline, climate change, and pollution. A review of over 150 studies finds the central problems we face are economic and political systems centered around unsustainable human consumption and population growth at the expense of all else. Biodiversity loss started some 11,000 years with the start of agriculture, which has vastly accelerated in recent centuries due to ever-worsening pressures placed on natural ecosystems. With a world population of 7.5 billion, which is expected to peak at 10 billion, that is worsening existing food insecurity, soil degradation, biodiversity decline, pollution, social inequality, and regional conflicts. Food production is sustained with the increasing use of fossil fuels and petrochemicals. Humanity is running an ecological Ponzi scheme in which society robs nature and future generations to pay for boosting incomes in the short term, all supported with petrochemicals. Half the large mammals in the world are humans, the other half are the domestic animals providing humanity with subsistence. All the other large mammals fit into just a 5% sliver.

4) Stock market closings for – 15 JAN 21:

Dow 30,814.26 down by 177.26
Nasdaq 12,998.50 down by 114.14
S&P 500 3,768.25 down by 27.29

10 Year Yield: down at 1.10%

Oil: down at $52.04

26 October 20

1) The renewable energy industry is possibly getting a boost from New York’s East River, which is set to become the testing ground for a technology that generates electricity from the tides by using tiny turbines. Verdant Power, a New York based marine energy technology company, is installing three small underwater turbines in the river that will generate electricity from the actions of the tide. The test system will feed power to Consolidated Edison Inc.’s grid. For years there has been other attempts to draw power from marine energy, but its adoption has been stymied by high costs and mechanical issues. The turbines use 16 foot diameter rotors which are expected to have 35 kilowatts of capacity each, about four times more than a typical U.S. residential rooftop solar system. The key to success is reducing the cost, but at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, it’s still more than twice the cost of wind and solar power.

2) The oil giant Exxon Mobil, is still reeling from the massive oil bust, and so is now having to lay off workers after all. When the rounds of layoffs in the oil industry started last May, Exxon had no plans to lay off employees. But economic realities have force a reversal of that position, because other measures to control operating cost have not been sufficient to weather the downturn. Exxon’s market value has dropped by 66 percent from $418 billion dollars and has recently been removed from the Dow Jones Industrial index, a group of 30 key stocks that serves as a benchmark indicator of the U.S. stock market. Fears that the oil and gas industry will never recover fully from the pandemic are dismissed, the company saying that developing countries around the world will continue to rely on affordable and abundant fossil fuels for decades to power their economies. It’s projected that oil and gas will make up about 50 percent of the global energy mix by 2040, down from around 60 percent today.

3) China shows increasing aggressiveness with threats of retaliation, if U.S. arms sale to Taiwan proceed, sales worth more than a billion dollars. Failure to do so would “compel the Chinese side to fight back resolutely,” a Chinese statement said. America is selling 135 precision land attack missiles, plus associated equipment and training to Taiwan to improve its defense capabilities. Taiwan isn’t the only pacific neighbor fearing China’s belligerent stance, for Japan is planning to build a missile defense system at sea despite facing mounting costs. Japan’s Aegis Ashore systems is meant to intercept missile strikes from westward. Japanese officials are considering several proposals, including putting Aegis on platforms resembling oil rigs, or on converted merchant ships or naval vessels because of safety issues for civilians. Japan has also launched its first high technology submarine, one of a coming fleet, to protect Japan from China’s aggressive threats.

4) Stock market closings for – 23 OCT 20:

Dow 28,335.57 down 28.09
Nasdaq 11,548.28 down 42.28
S&P 500 3,465.39 down 11.90

10 Year Yield: down at 0.84%

Oil: down at $39.78