Energy & Commodities

Seoul Is Putting Solar On All Public Buildings and 1 Million Homes

In Seoul, South Korea, every public building and 1 million homes will have solar panels by 2022. South Korea, the world’s fourth-largest coal importer, is making a concerted effort to shift to green energy after public pressure to do so and aims to generate 35% of its electricity from renewables by 2040.

South Korea is Asia’s fourth-largest economy, and it currently relies on nuclear, gas, and coal for power. The government had originally planned to retrofit 20 of its 60 coal plants with anti-pollution gear when they reached 30 years of age, but this idea has been abandoned, as it’s not cost-effective. According to a June Reuters article:

“To have more renewable power, we can make coal power plants run lower,” said Kang Seung-jin, energy professor at Korea Polytechnic University, who is helping to map out the 2019 plan.

According to the World Economic Forum:

The World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which benchmarks countries’ energy systems and supports them as they move to cleaner power sources, ranks South Korea 48th out of 115 nations surveyed. Its capital wants to lead the transition.

In November 2017, the capital city’s government announced the 2022 Solar City Seoul Plan, in which it said it would add 1 GW of solar capacity by 2022. This has already cut more than 100 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions…CLICK for complete article

5 Warning Signs of Market ‘Euphoria’

The U.S. stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, is up 23.4% this year and recently reached a new record high, but five signs of investor euphoria suggest growing risks, according to Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets. She endorses RBC’s year-end 2019 target of 2,950 for the index, 4.7% below the Nov. 12 close, according to a recent story in Barron’s.

Calvasina discussed these five signs in a note to clients:

  1. Asset managers have bullish positions in U.S. equity futures similar to the highs before the financial crisis, risking a big negative reaction to bad news.
  2. U.S. stock valuations are near their late 2017 highs.
  3. Earnings forecasts for 2020 are too optimistic.
  4. Stock prices anticipate a phase one U.S.-China trade agreement, but business confidence remains seriously damaged.
  5. The S&P 500 has risen nearly 32% above its Dec. 2018 low, similar to previous rallies off lows in 2010, 2011 and 2016 that paused.

Significance for Investors

“We haven’t learned anything in the current reporting season that justifies euphoric positioning and peak valuations,” Calvasina wrote. “Reporting season has been better than feared, but the overall tone around demand/macro, tariffs and cost savings all sounds very familiar–it’s what companies have been saying all year,” she added.

On the other hand, money market fund assets are $3.4 trillion, a 10-year high and still rising, undercutting the “euphoric positioning” narrative. Several strategists see this as a bullish indicator, per The Wall Street Journal.

Calvasina predicts that a pause by the Fed in cutting interest rates limits the upside for equity valuations. If 2020 earnings disappoint, as she anticipates, stock prices should sink….CLICK for complete article

Will Bezos Buy The Seattle Seahawks?

While it appears that giant Amazon has lost a tax battle in Seattle, it might win the “big game,” with its billionaire owner Jeff Bezos considering buying an NFL team. Amazon poured nearly $1.5 million into last week’s Seattle city council elections, aiming to defeat politicians who supported a tax on big business that Amazon and other big companies oppose.

Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders accused Amazon of trying to buy the council.

Well, the lobbying didn’t work anyway.

Only two of the seven candidates endorsed by Amazon and other companies emerged as winners.

One of the winners was Kshama Sawant, a self-described socialist and Amazon’s fiercest critic on the council.

The backstory is that last year, the Seattle city council voted to levy a new tax on large businesses of about $275 per employee, calling it a “head tax.” The tax was designed to raise at least $45 million a year to build more affordable housing and help support a homeless population.

However, less than a month later, Amazon and other Seattle businesses succeeded in pushing local leaders to repeal the tax…CLICK for complete article

6 Technology Trends Revolutionizing The Transportation Sector

The transportation industry boasts this inglorious claim to fame: It’s responsible for nearly 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Of that, cars and trucks alone are believed to be responsible for nearly one-fifth of all U.S. emissions.

It’s not profit loss. It’s how much Americans lost on average every year due to traffic congestion.

Americans have lost an average of 97 hours a year due to congestion, which costs them roughly $87 billion, or an average of $1,348 per driver, according to 2018 INRIX National Traffic Scorecard.

And it’s about to get worse.

The market now is all about doing two things at once: cleaning up and getting out of traffic. The tech advance that makes both possible wins on all levels.

Here are the 5 cleanest modes of travel right now…CLICK for complete article

Murky Business of Chinese Merchandise on Amazon’s US Site

As Amazon “aggressively recruited Chinese manufacturers and merchants” to sell to US consumers, its China team “saw increasing patterns of fraud, counterfeits and unsafe products.” But consumers have no clue where the sellers are and where the products came from.

Everybody who buys enough on Amazon has noticed this: Buyer beware!

You get a mix of Amazon’s own merchandise and the third-party market place, which accounts for over half of Amazon’s physical gross merchandise sales. You’re surrounded by good merchandise, fakes, and dangerous products made overseas. There are legit sellers, legit manufacturers, and dubious sellers and manufacturers. You don’t know who or where the seller or manufacturer is because they don’t have to disclose it, including many sellers in China. It’s all there, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and buyers have to sort it out on their own. Even many of the product reviews are fake.

We’ve had good experiences too: We bought a set of cotton sheets via the Amazon platform from the manufacturer in India. Because it cut out all the middlemen, except the Amazon platform, the price was a fraction of the price of similar-quality sheets – also made in India – at a big-name US department store. And we got it a couple of days after ordering it. That’s one end of the spectrum…CLICK for complete article

Ousted Uber CEO Cashes Out $500 Million In Stock

Ousted Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick sold more than half a billion dollars’ worth of stock last week, and many expect he will be redirecting that cash windfall to his new startup.

Kalanick co-founded Uber in 2009 but was ousted as CEO in 2017 after a series of scandals rocked the company. However, he still owns 4 percent of the rideshare giant and remains a director on its board.