1) The technology known as carbon capture and storage, a concept that has been around for at least a quarter century to reduce the climate damaging emissions from factories, is being pursued by major international oil companies. The idea sounds deceptively simple, just divert pollutants before they can escape into the air, and bury them deep in the ground where they are harmless. But the technology has proved to be hugely expensive, and so has not caught on as quickly as advocates hoped. Exxon Mobil, BP and Royal Dutch Shell plus lesser known Norway’s Equinor, France’s Total, and Italy’s Eni are investors in capture and storage projects.
2) Reports are, that amid all the trillion dollar spending, the White House is now starting to consider how to pay for the programs meant to bolster long term economic growth with investments in infrastructure, clean energy and education. The challenges are twofold: 1) how much of the bill is paid for with tax increases and 2) which policies to finance with more borrowing. The administration hasn’t decided whether to pursue a wealth tax. With interest rates so low, U.S. borrowing costs are manageable right now. The federal government currently collects the biggest chunk of its revenue, about half in 2019, from individual income taxes, which now tops out at 37% of income above $518,000 per year. For now, there are few signs of inflationary spiral or fiscal crisis that policy makers thought would accompany debt levels like today’s. The Congressional Budget Office this month projected that the national debt would double as a proportion of gross domestic product over the next 30 years. But the cost of borrowing is rising for the government and across the economy so the large debt could mean trouble in the future.
3) India’s foreign-exchange reserves has surpassed Russia’s to become the world’s fourth largest, as India central bank continues to hoard dollars to cushion the economy against any sudden outflows. Reserves for both countries have mostly flattened this year after months of rapid increase. India’s reserves, enough to cover roughly 18 months of imports, have been bolstered by a rare current-account surplus, raising inflows into the local stock market and foreign direct investment. India’s foreign currency holdings fell by $4.3 billion to $580.3 billion as of March 5, edging out Russia’s $580.1 billion pile. China has the largest reserves, followed by Japan and Switzerland on the International Monetary Fund table.
4) Stock market closings for – 15 MAR 21:
Dow 32,953.46 up by 174.82 Nasdaq 3,459.71 up by 139.84 S&P 500 3,968.94 up by 25.60
1) The Interior Department moved one step closer to allowing the construction of the country’s first commercial scale offshore wind project with the release of a Final Environmental Impact Statement. This is the last step before issuing a decision on whether it will approve or deny the request to build the 800-megawatt project, the amount of energy used by more than 400,000 homes, and is 12 miles from Martha’s Vineyard. But the environmental assessment notes the project is expected to negatively impact commercial fishing, a $630 million industry in Massachusetts. If approved the Vineyard Wind 1 project is expected to be completed in 2023.
2) Japan’s new supercomputer Fugaku is the fastest supercomputer in the world and now is finally in fully operational status. Now, after undergoing nearly a year of testing on projects aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic by using analytics, modeling and policy making to prevent similar disasters, the computer is operational. Fugaku has been at the top of the list of fastest supercomputers since mid-2020, and it continues to hold that spot in the most recent Top 500 list. With three times the computing power of the runner-up IBM Summit, Fugaku is likely to remain the supercomputer to beat until Finland’s LUMI is completed. Fugaku is powered by ARM A64FX chips, of which it has 7,630,848 cores. When tested against the HPL supercomputing benchmark, it set a world record of 442 petaflops. And against the ‘high-performance computing artificial intelligence’ workload (HPC-AI) benchmark it maxed out at 2.0 exaflops, beating the previous record (also held by Fugaku) of 1.4 exaflops set in June 2020. According to Top 500, Fugaku’s HPC-AI benchmark was the first benchmark measurements above one exaflop for any precision on any type of hardware. In terms of the type of research Fugaku will be working on, some projects have already returned results such as simulating tsunami waves to forecast flooding in Japan. Seventy-four additional projects have been selected for implementation starting in April 2021.
3) Worries continue to grow that interest rates and inflation will rise as a result of greater government borrowing- a.k.a. the just passed $1.9 trillion stimulus package. Washington doesn’t want to talk about how to pay for it, and now they’re wanting to do an infrastructure bill. The negative effects on the economy will include higher mortgage rates and car payments. There are growing fears that coming next is a massive tax increase.
4) Stock market closings for – 10 MAR 21:
Dow 32,297.02 up by 464.28 Nasdaq 13,068.83 down by 4.99 S&P 500 3,898.81 up by 23.37
1) In October and November Intermodal, shipping carriers rejected U.S. agricultural export containers worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Instead they are sending empty containers back to China to be filled with more profitable Chinese exports. These refusals came during the peak season for agriculture exports. The matter is being investigated to see whether the carriers refusing U.S. export cargo violated the Shipping Act. This act makes it unlawful for carriers to unreasonably refuse to deal with or negotiate, to boycott or take any other concerted action resulting in an unreasonable refusal to deal, or engage in conduct that unreasonably restricts the use of intermodal services. Carriers rejected an estimated 177,938 containers known as TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) in October and November.
2) There are three Pacific military flashpoints that could shape Biden’s entire China strategy these next four years. The suggestion that the departure of President Trump from Washington would ease US-China tensions are being discounted. China has flown more than two dozen combat aircraft near Taiwan and have passed a law which allows China’s coast guard to fire on foreign vessels. Meanwhile, the US Navy has sent an aircraft carrier strike group into the South China Sea. China could use large-scale military exercises near Taiwan or in the South China Sea, or stopping foreign vessels in the name of enforcing Chinese maritime regulations. The flashpoints are: 1) The South China Sea- China has built up tiny reefs and sandbars into man-made artificial islands, fortified with missiles, runways and weapons systems. 2) Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait- Despite 75 years as an independent nation, China claims Taiwan as belonging to China, and has repeatedly stated its intention to bring Taiwan under its control, with force if necessary. 3) Japan- Strongly aligned with the U.S. There is contention between Japan and China over Senkakus, an uninhabited rocky island chain, 1,200 miles southwest of Tokyo.
3) Experts predict that Phoenix Arizona may become uninhabitable by the end of this century. The Southwest is facing a reckoning from decades of human development, coupled with rising global temperatures from carbon emissions, which means that many major cities in the Southwest may become uninhabitable for humans this century. They are concerned that cities like Phoenix may have temperatures above 100 degrees for a third of the year, including well after dark.
4) Stock market closings for – 1 FEB 21:
Dow 30,211.91 up by 229.29 Nasdaq 13,403.39 up by 332.70 S&P 500 3,773.86 up by 59.62
1) More automation is entering the American economy in an unexpected segment of business- the recycling sorting of trash . . . a dirty, low-paying, mind-numbing job that is hard to fill simply because so few people are willing to do that kind of work. The 300-pound robot sorts through an unending line of trash. It uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to detect recyclables, and is able to pluck a hunk of plastic off a conveyor belt, then place those bits into sorting bins using a vacuum gripper. The robot sorts glass, plastic and paper into the appropriate bins, leaving metal on a conveyor. It is designed and built by AMP Robotics. There are 600-plus recycling facilities in America, which process some 67 million tons of waste, which is a labor intensive, and therefore costly endeavor, but the $300,000 robot, which can work 24/7, will lower cost by eliminating the human sorters. The Louisville, Colorado based company has sold or leased a100 of its robots since 2017 to more than 40 recycling facilities in North America, Europe and Japan.
2) The civilian space transportation company, SpaceX has purchased two floating deepwater oil rigs to convert into floating launchpads for its Starship rocket. Each were purchased for just $3.5 million dollars. These two rigs have been renamed Deimos and Phobos, presumably in homage to the Martian moons. The Starship is the enormous rocket that SpaceX is developing to meet the goal of launching cargo and as many as 100 people at a time on missions to the moon and Mars. SpaceX has been publicly hiring for offshore operations positions since last year, when the company posted that it was building a team of engineers and technicians to design and build an operational offshore rocket launch facility.
3) The Israeli company StoreDot has announced a new design for an electric-car battery that can be charged as fast as filling up your gas tank. This faster-charging capability will make EVs more accessible to the general public. The new battery is a lithium-ion battery that will be manufactured by Eve Energy in China. The company has produced 1,000 sample batteries compliant with Li-ion battery certifications. Current electric-car batteries can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours to charge, with a typical EV taking about 8 hours to charge from empty to full.
4) Stock market closings for – 20 JAN 21:
Dow 31,188.38 up by 257.86 Nasdaq 13,457.25 up by 260.07 S&P 500 3,851.85 up by 52.94
1) While some Covid-19 infected people required intensive care and struggle to live, others only get sick with something akin to the flu to recover without any complications. This has raised suspicions that there might be a genetic factor that makes some people much more susceptible to sever illness and threatening of life. Researchers have found five key genetic issues that might favor severe Covid-19 illness, which in turn could lead to the discovery of new therapies that specifically target the types of genetic imbalances that can lead to life-threatening complications, which include genes involved in antiviral immunity and lung inflammation. The black plague of medieval times has been found to have a genetic factor that allowed some people to survive the plague, while many others died. Scientist have discovered key differences in these five genes: IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9, and CCR, that may partially explain why some people become severely sick with Covid-19, while others are not affected. This research will most likely lead to better treatment programs with a higher survival rate.
2) The Japanese research capsule, which returned from the asteroid Ryugu has yielded a black sandy dust from the distant asteroid Ryugu. The black dust was found in the capsule’s outer shell, with more substantial samples expected to be found when the inner container is opened. These results comes a week after the Hayabusa-2 space probe dropped off its capsule, which entered the atmosphere to land in the Australian desert and then was transported to Japan. The black sand-like particles are believed to be derived from the asteroid Ryugu about 200 million miles from Earth. The asteroid probe collected both surface dust and pristine material from below the surface that was stirred up by firing a projectile into the asteroid. But work is not over for the probe, which now begins an extended mission targeting two new asteroids.
3) The first U.S. Covid-19 vaccinations outside of clinical trials has began, starting the most urgent mass immunization campaign since polio shots were rolled out in the 1950s. The newly authorized vaccine was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech SE. The Pfizer vaccine was shipped out Sunday, with hospitals and health departments receiving them early Monday. A total of 55 sites nationwide have received vaccine shipments Monday. A total of 636 locations are scheduled to receive vaccines by Wednesday and an additional 581 between Thursday and Sunday, for a distribution of an initial 2.9 million doses. The vaccines are given in two doses several weeks apart. Public health officials are counting on a vaccine to help bring an end to the deadly pandemic, which has killed 300,000 Americans and infected 16.25 million since the start of the pandemic.
4) Stock market closings for – 14 DEC 20:
Dow 29,861.55 down by 184.82 Nasdaq 12,440.04 up by 62.17 S&P 500 3,647.49 down by 15.97
1) The United States became the first nation to surpass 10 million coronavirus infections since the worldwide pandemic started. This is the feared third wave of the Covid-19 virus now surging across the nation. America has reported about a million cases in the past 10 days, the highest rate of infections since the first reporting, while worldwide, coronavirus cases now exceeds 50 million. In the United States the daily average of new deaths account for 1 in every 11 deaths worldwide. The Midwest remains the hardest-hit region based on the most cases per capital with the top five worst-affected states being North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska.
2) With Joe Biden now expected to enter the Oval Office, the American workplace is going to look much different. Biden has four decades of union leaders behind him, making him potentially the most labor-friendly president of the U.S., who won the endorsement of almost every major union in the country. Labor reform is a fundamental part of his administration with at least one union leader to be named to his Cabinet. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to drive permanent job losses and compromise worker safety, the case for structural change may be stronger than ever. A sharp turn from the Trump White House on labor policy is expected with the Democrats to reverse the present labor policies. Worker safety enforcement, progressive labor policy with a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, boost manufacturing via trade, and a more labor-friendly National Labor Relations Board are just some of the areas for major changes to be made. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama push through a wide range of policies, only to have their plans overtaken by other agenda items like health care. But the most important factor being overlooked is AI (Artificial Intelligence) experts are predicting that up to 50% of American jobs will disappear in the next 15 to 25 years. Also, any time you raise the cost of labor, then those jobs will be replaced by automation.
3) Japan moves to reduce its fossil fuel emissions, with Japan being the fifth largest polluter, by using hydrogen fuel for its energy needs. Hydrogen offers the greatest potential to decarbonize industries like steel, cement and heavy duty transport, to achieve net-zero emissions.
4) Stock market closings for – 9 NOV 20: The Dow surged to 1,500 points on news of an effective Covid-19 vaccine trials by Pfizer with early results showing at 90% effectiveness. The Dow was briefly over 30,000.
Dow 29,157.97 up by 834.57 Nasdaq 11,713.78 down by 181.45 S&P 500 3,550.50 up at 41.06
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
1) Across America, schools are struggling over if and how they should open and operate amidst the Covid-19 crisis while knowing students are infected in growing numbers. Schools are opening their doors only to have to quickly backtrack as soon as infections pop up. Debates rage over using ‘remote learning’ verse ‘in class’, with a mirid of problems with either strategy. Add to this is fears of teachers and bus drivers being exposed to potentially life threatening infections. The main problem is schools just aren’t designed for social distancing, either in the classroom or hallways. There isn’t any federal standards to guide local schools in the opening and operating of schools in the shadow of the pandemic.
2) First class mail volume had declined significantly in America, especially since the pandemic, so the USPS (United States Postal Service) is removing mailboxes in parts of Oregon. The USPS has seen a significant decline in revenue, a decline that has been on going for many years as electronic billing/payment and email has become increasingly popular. This could be portends of things to come in the near future, as the USPS struggles with money to operate.
3) With China’s announcement of its latest combat drills near Taiwan, the democratic island is increasing its defense spending. China’s aggressiveness, both military and economic, in the pacific area is raising fears of surrounding countries about their safety. Japan is also concerned over what China might do with her fast growing military power. Taiwan is increasing their military budget by 10.2%. Since the early days of the cold war, Taiwan has been threatened by China, including direct military attacks, so Taiwan knows that China has to be taken seriously. The island nation is discussing acquiring sea mines to deter amphibious landings as well as cruise missiles for coastal defense. Last year the State Department approved $10 billion dollars in arms sales. Additionally, Taiwan is beginning free trade talks with the U.S., a move that would bring the two countries closer together.
4) Stock market closings for – 14 AUG 20:
Dow 27,931.02 up 34.30 Nasdaq 11,019.30 up 23.20 S&P 500 3,372.85 up 0.58
1) Speculation abounds over what the next stimulus package will have, such as extended income support for the unemployed and underemployed. New temporary subsidies for low wage workers. Cheap loans for small and medium size businesses with additional support for state and local governments. Cost estimates for a second stimulus program range from one to two trillion dollars. But like the first stimulus package, no one is offering ideas how this money will be paid off, especially if economic expansion doesn’t materialize.
2) The worlds fastest super computer is now Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer developed by Riken and Fujitsu with backing from the Japanese government. It has a speed of roughly 415.53 petaflops, which is 2.8 times faster than the US Summit supercomputers at 148.6 petaflops. The Fugaku was under development for six years and will start full time operation by April 2021, although it has been pressed into service in the coronavirus crisis, running simulations on how droplets would spread in office spaces with partitions. Previously, the fastest supercomputers have belong to America and China.
3) The sales of existing homes has dropped in May, a result of the coronavirus impact on the economy. The sales of existing homes in May fell 9.7% compared with April, which makes for an annual decline of 26.6%. This is the largest decline since 1982 when interest rates were 18%. There remains a shortage of housing which is helping to uplift the market, and therefore the economy as soon as the crisis has subsided.
4) Stock market closings for – 22 JUN 20:
Dow 26,024.96 up 153.50 Nasdaq 10,056.48 up 110.35 S&P 500 3,117.86 up 20.12