It’s been about four months since the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that the U.S. was officially in a recession, and what a weird recession — and recovery — it’s been. The stock market has been merrily chugging along since February, when the recession began; disposable income increased even though millions of Americans were out of work; and unemployment has been bouncing back much faster than economists expected.
But there’s still a lot of uncertainty about what will happen as winter approaches and COVID-19 cases start to tick up again. And many economists are still not very optimistic about the speed of our trajectory back to a pre-pandemic economy — even though some signals might be improving.
In May, FiveThirtyEight kicked off a biweekly survey of 30-odd quantitative macroeconomists in partnership with the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. We asked the economists to forecast the trajectory of various economic indicators. And after 10 rounds of questions, it’s clear that on some metrics — particularly unemployment — the economists have become a lot more bullish about the speed of the recovery. Yet that optimism hasn’t translated into greater confidence that we’ll be back to economic normalcy anytime soon. In the latest round of the survey, conducted from Oct. 9 to 12, the economists collectively thought there was a 66 percent probability that the economy won’t truly be back to normal until 2022 or later.
“We generally think of the recession as something of a ‘swoosh’ shape, and we are now on the slow part of the rebound,” said Jonathan Wright, an economics professor at Johns Hopkins University who has been consulting with FiveThirtyEight on the design of the survey. “It was always easier to say that the recovery will be a slow grind than to know the near-term trajectory. So it makes sense that while economists got much more optimistic about the near-term, they largely kept their view that the damage will take a long time to repair.”
We looked at a handful of questions that we asked in nearly every round of the survey to see how things changed between the late spring and now. On one question — about the state of unemployment in December 2020 — the economists got markedly more optimistic. The average point estimate for December unemployment fell from 12.8 percent in late May to 7.4 percent in the current round.
A big source of the optimism, of course, is that workers have been returning to their jobs over the past few months much faster than economists initially expected. The unemployment rate in September was 7.9 percent — down from 14.7 percent in April. So in a sense, the current 7.4 percent prediction for December is actually pretty pessimistic — because it implies that, on average, the economists think there’s a good chance the unemployment rate will fall less than a percentage point over the next three months.
When it comes to fourth-quarter gross domestic product, meanwhile, the economists’ predictions were basically back where they started. In early June, the economists forecast 4.2 percent GDP growth in the survey, with a relatively wide confidence interval. In the last round, that forecast had improved only slightly, to 4.9 percent, and the confidence interval was just as wide — signaling that they hadn’t gotten any more sure about the outcome over the intervening months, either.
Of course, it’s worth noting that their forecasts for third-quarter GDP got significantly sunnier over the course of the summer, which might be part of the reason they weren’t expecting more quarter-over-quarter growth between the last two quarters of the year. But note how unsure economists still are about our economic situation at the end of the year. Allan Timmermann, a professor of economics at the University of California at San Diego who has also been consulting with FiveThirtyEight on the survey, said it’s “truly extraordinary” that the economists’ average band of uncertainty around their point estimate is essentially unchanged since June. “Normally, uncertainty would have been significantly reduced over such a long horizon,” he said.
Timmermann chalked up the uncertainty to the fact that so much remains unknown about how the pandemic will evolve. “Uncertainty about the trajectory of the virus and its impact on service sectors such as hospitality, travel, entertainment, eating out, remains in the forefront and has not really been resolved at this point,” he said. “Many firms are hoping to outlast the virus, but even at this point it is very unclear how long the pandemic will last.”
And that is perhaps why economists’ long-term estimates remain almost as dour as they were when the survey began. In every round, we asked them when GDP would return to pre-pandemic levels. Early on, the economists thought that there was a 67 percent chance that we wouldn’t be back to that point until the first half of 2022 at the earliest. In the last round, that outlook was basically unchanged.
|round 2||round 10||difference|
|Earlier than first half of 2021||2%||1%||-1|
|First half of 2021||11||8||-3|
|Second half of 2021||21||25||+4|
|First half of 2022||22||26||+4|
|Second half of 2022||20||20||0|
|First half of 2023||12||11||-1|
|Second half of 2023||7||5||-2|
|After second half of 2023||6||4||-2|
Wright, meanwhile, thought it was possible that more bad news awaits us — in part because Congress still hasn’t acted to pass a second wave of fiscal stimulus, which the economists consistently told us was necessary to speed the economic recovery. “The combination of delayed fiscal stimulus and bad news on the virus could indeed cause something of a double dip later this year,” he said.
Neil Paine contributed research.]]>
Published on October 19th, 2020 |
by Rocky Mountain Institute
October 19th, 2020 by Rocky Mountain Institute
Originally published on RMI website.
By Jimmy Gilman
Getting around cities in electric vehicles (EVs) is getting easier as EV infrastructure grows. But traveling between cities is still a challenge as infrastructure, incentives, and policies aren’t always implemented on a regional scale.
The fear of EV suitability for regional travel has been a major roadblock to embracing the technology. Several surveys and studies, including those from McKinsey, Volvo, Autolist, and Venson, have cited “range anxiety” and a lack of charging infrastructure as leading barriers to EV adoption by individuals and fleets in recent years. While greater consumer knowledge of EVs can alleviate these apprehensions to an extent, adequate infrastructure in heavily traveled locations of a region will be essential to ease EV range concerns. Past studies have demonstrated that areas with the highest uptake in EVs generally benefitted from two to six times the availability of public charging infrastructure compared with the national average.
While it’s well known which cities contain large numbers of EV charging stations, we analyzed the development of EV charging infrastructure in the areas surrounding major cities to determine their regional preparedness for an increasing number of EVs. Recognizing that cities lack direct control over regional preparedness, we nevertheless sought to understand this area of infrastructure readiness. We reviewed and scored 60 prominent US cities including all 25 cities participating in the American Cities Climate Challenge, the five largest cities from each census-defined division of the country, and the largest cities in each of the 44 largest metro areas in the nation. These urban areas cumulatively encompass more than 57 percent of the US population.
We used three different scoring metrics to evaluate the EV infrastructure surrounding these cities:
The goal of focusing on these metrics was to paint a fuller picture of where people are moving throughout a region and the adequacy of infrastructure in those locations. The metrics and scoring methods can be seen here.
Five of the ten cities with the highest availability of surrounding EV infrastructure are in California, with San Jose receiving 45 of 48 possible points for regional readiness. Cities in California benefited from high levels of density and near universal commitment to EVs in the area. Outside of California, Denver, Hartford, Baltimore, Portland, and Salt Lake City also displayed above-average EV charging infrastructure in their surroundings. A full list of cities and scoring can be seen in Exhibit 1.
We also added up the scores of the most populous cities in the five largest metro areas of each census division to analyze division-wide readiness for EVs. The Pacific division performed strongly, as all its most populous cities received high point totals. Somewhat more intriguing was the preparedness exhibited by the New England and the South Atlantic divisions. Cities in New England enjoyed high metropolitan per capita charger counts as well as high availability of chargers at day trip destinations. The South Atlantic was elevated by cities such as Atlanta and Tampa in addition to Baltimore, as all three cities are in areas with strong airport readiness and day trip readiness. Exhibit 2 shows the aggregated scores for all nine census divisions as well as the most prepared city in each region.
Exhibit 1. Total Points for Each City Based on Regional EV Infrastructure Readiness
Exhibit 2. Aggregated Census Division Scores and Most Prepared City in Each Division
Although it was difficult to include this as a scoring metric, Exhibit 3 shows the distribution of all DC fast chargers in the United States as well as a map of the country’s primary highway network. The blue circles represent a 50-mile area around each charging station location, indicating the segments of major highways that are in the vicinity of a fast charger.
It is apparent that the most prepared cities in each division have strong fast-charger coverage in their immediate areas. Gaps are visible away from these more urbanized environments, which could lead to range anxiety for consumers taking longer trips outside of their home cities and states. Furthermore, fast-charger coverage in various major corridors of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and some other states is limited to Tesla drivers only. This further complicates the question of regional infrastructure suitability for individuals that drive other brands of EVs.
Exhibit 3. US Primary Highways Within 50 Miles of DC Fast Chargers
We spoke with representatives from various well-prepared cities regarding their plans for regional EV collaboration. All stressed the importance of sharing resources and ideas to leverage their impact on electrifying transportation.
San Jose, CA: The city of San Jose engages in robust collaboration with several state, county, regional, and utility actors to expand regional charging infrastructure and promote EVs. The city received $14 million from CALeVIP, a state-run fund-matching program, to support the expansion of EV charging infrastructure in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. According to Laura Stuchinsky, emerging mobility program lead for San Jose’s Transportation Department, this funding was secured through coordination between San Jose Clean Energy and other regional utility actors such as Silicon Valley Clean Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy, City of Palo Alto Utilities, and Silicon Valley Power.
Denver, CO: Denver has focused primarily on information sharing with other regional municipalities to discuss best practices for EV adoption. Mike Salisbury, Denver’s transportation energy lead, stressed that it is important to work with tourist destinations to address charging needs moving forward, a particularly salient topic in Denver where many citizens frequent mountain towns west of the city. Salisbury articulated a need for the expansion of DC fast charging at airports as well to facilitate charging capabilities during drop-off and pick-up situations for ridesharing drivers in addition to private citizens.
Austin, TX: In 2012, Austin Energy developed the Texas River Cities Plug-in Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan. The report engaged various metropolitan planning organizations, dozens of private companies, the perspectives of more than 1,000 EV experts, and numerous other stakeholders across 10 different counties. The report’s authors Karl Popham and Cameron Freberg, from Austin Energy’s electric vehicle and emerging technologies team, stated that Austin Energy has since continued to build on the recommendations provided for the region, growing the Plug-In EVerywhere public charging network to nearly 1,000 ports.
A network of DC fast charging stations has also recently been deployed to provide more rapid charging capabilities, support high-mileage vehicles, and facilitate intercity travel in the region. In addition to rolling out this infrastructure, Austin Energy has been working with regional coalitions and the community to conduct education and outreach to further the adoption of EVs.
Nashville, TN: The City of Nashville is an active participant in the Drive Electric Tennessee (DET) program. The initiative brings together state agencies, universities, cities, utilities, EV manufacturers, advocacy groups, and private businesses to promote EV adoption in the state. Laurel Creech, assistant director of the division of sustainability at the Metro Nashville Department of General Services, and co-chair of the policy and programs committee as part of the DET Roadmap, stated they are focused on developing a local action plan that municipalities across the state can utilize. According to Creech, “Nashville will also play a role in supporting and participating in some of the other committee’s recommendations when finalized.” These state-level initiatives create a forum to facilitate communication regarding EVs among the entities of a given geographic area.
Expansion of EV charging infrastructure around cities will provide greater confidence for consumers hoping to travel throughout a region. The strategies and plans being undertaken by the cities above will be crucial in order to share ideas and resources among municipalities and other stakeholders on the path to widescale implementation of chargers and EVs.
While cities understandably lack full control over some of these metrics, this analysis is meant to steer the conversation toward a more holistic paradigm of EV-readiness. Actors that play a role in metropolitan areas, tourist destinations, airports, federal highways, and other highly traveled parts of a region are often in direct communication and should expand the ways and frequency in which they collaborate on EV issues in the future. This will be necessary to assuage range anxiety concerns and foster an environment that is ripe for EV adoption.
For more information on the methods of this analysis, or to learn more about Rocky Mountain Institute’s work in mobility transformation, visit rmi.org/our-work/mobility-transformation/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on Rocky Mountain Institute, RMI can be found at rmi.org, or follow us on Twitter @RockyMtnInst.
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Caspian Sunrise, an oil and gas firm focused on Kazakhstan, has completed the acquisition of the Caspian Explorer drilling vessel, marking the company’s step into offshore drilling.
The company, mostly focused on onshore oil and gas activities, had proposed the acquisition of the Caspian Explorer shallow water drilling vessel in January. It on Monday said it had completed the acquisition of the vessel.
The vessel is capable of drilling exploration wells to depths of up to 6,000 meters in extremely shallow water, and Caspian Sunrise plans to use it in the North Caspian Sea.
The Caspian Explorer was conceived of by a consortium of leading Korean companies including KNOC, Samsung and Daewoo Shipbuilding. The vessel was constructed in the Essay shipyard in Kazakhstan between 2010 and 2011 for a construction cost, according to Caspian Sunrise, believed to be approximately $170 million. The total costs after fit-out are believed to have been approximately $200 million, Caspian Sunrise said.
The Caspian Explorer became operational in 2012 at a time of relatively low oil prices and reduced exploration activity in the Northern Caspian Sea. In 2017, the Korean consortium decided to sell the Caspian Explorer by way of a competitive tender with the buyer being KC Caspian Explorer LLP.
In 2017, the Caspian Explorer was leased out to a consortium between KazMunaiGas and Indian state oil company for $28 million after costs and drilled one exploration well to a depth of 3.5 km. In 2018, the Caspian Explorer was leased out KazMunaiGas for up to $24 million drilling one exploration well to a depth of 1.8 km. The Caspian Explorer did not operate in 2019 or to date in 2020.
Caspian Sunrise said Monday that the $25 million headline consideration for the acquisition of the vessel would be satisfied by the issue of 160,256,410 new Caspian Sunrise shares at a price of 12p per share, which in January 2020 was a 28% premium to the prevailing share price.
The acquisition was approved by independent shareholders in February 2020.
“Given the sharp decline in the Company’s share price, the Caspian Explorer purchase price for accounting purposes based on current prices is approximately $3.2 million,” Caspian Sunrise said.
“To date there are no confirmed bookings for the Caspian Explorer. We believe, however, that as exploration activities resume in the shallow northern Caspian Sea we shall over time see interest in chartering the drilling vessel,” the company said.
The majority owner of the Caspian Explorer is Aibek Oraziman, a director of the Caspian Sunrise, and a member of the Oraziman family. Following the completion of the acquisition, Aibek Oraziman will own 450,364,489 Caspian Sunrise shares representing 21.6% of the enlarged total. The immediate Oraziman family shareholding will increase to 903,429,585 shares representing 43.3% of the enlarged total.
Under the agreement, each of the sellers has committed not to dispose of any of the consideration shares for a period of three months from completion.
Clive Carver, Caspian Sunrise Chairman said: “It is good to finally complete the acquisition approved by shareholders back in February. We look forward to the barge once again being active in the shallow northern Caspian Sea.”]]>
By Nathan Tankus. Originally published at Notes on the Crises
I haven’t written in detail about the prospects of a congressional fiscal package since the beginning of August. Since we’re two weeks out from an election, this seems important to revisit. Long time readers will remember that I’ve been an aggressive advocate of large fiscal support to the economy so that there weren’t major income and financial impacts from having to quarantine. As the prospects of a new deal become more remote, I added my voice to the larger calls for a new package. I’ve outlined the damage that could be inflicted by not having a deal. I ended this run of articles with a piece in the Guardian warning against the terrible prospect of congress passing another fiscal deal. And especially not extending the supplemental unemployment insurance.
When it became clear we weren’t getting a fiscal package, I stepped back to analyze the “Fiscal Cliffication” of our economic policy. As I explained in that article, the Republican party has many political incentives not to pass a fiscal package. These hold especially if they strongly suspect Donald Trump will lose in November. Meanwhile, Democrats also have political incentives not to engage in a deal. I think that the political analysis in that piece holds up, and explains what has been going on for the past two and a half months. As I said then:
While this is disastrous for the country at large, the political incentives each party faces are going to lead to intensifying fiscal cliffs for the foreseeable future […] Without major and extreme change to our politics, we’re much more likely to see half-hearted and inadequate short-term extensions to the most minimal support to households and businesses, for as long as legislation requires inter-party cooperation.
Clearly, however, the politics of a new fiscal package have now evolved. It is beyond the scope of this piece to assess all the complex twists and turns of the negotiations. For that, you should be reading the excellent coverage by Jeff Stein at the Washington Post. The most important thing to understand is that the negotiations have not moved onto the main hurdle — Senate Republicans. While Democrats have been able to get the Trump administration to improve it’s offer in terms of dollar amounts, it’s not clear how meaningful that is without Senate Republicans participating. Negotiations have stalled at a back-and-forth between Trump, and House Democrats. House Speaker Pelosi’s stated position as of this writing is that she is not willing to accept the Trump administration’s proposed 1.8 trillion dollar offer. This offer includes another round of stimulus checks to every American, expanded unemployment insurance, and 300 billion for state and local governments.
Pelosi’s stated objections are firstly that the Trump administration is asking for too much discretion in allocating funding for coronavirus testing and secondly that they haven’t agreed to set terms on how state and local government support would be allocated. There are also a range of other issues where the terms and dollar amounts are not set, such as for childcare and a refundable tax credit for lower income Americans. She is also strongly objecting to the controversial idea of providing businesses a liability shield from coronavirus related lawsuits. This is a stated “red line” for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. While these issues are significant, it is not clear that they are worth holding up a package while millions of households are facing starvation and eviction.
This is especially true as the main leverage Democrats have is the looming election. An advantage which (obviously!) disappears once it is over, in just two weeks. Nonetheless, it is important to step back and remember House Speaker Pelosi’s stated goal in these negotiations — to get as big of a package as she can. Meanwhile, Republicans are looking to skimp on economic support. Her “messaging” bill was the 2.2 trillion dollar HEROES act. By contrast, Majority Senate Leader McConnell’s “messaging” bill is a minimal 500 billion (with no aid to state and local governments.) I could offer more detailed opinions on the complex politics surrounding these nearly lapsed negotiations, but I don’t really see that as my role. But they are important to understand for those who are keenly interested in our economic situation, as it stands today.
Let’s consider the lay of the land for Covid-struck America, after existing stimulus efforts. This will give us some idea of what hangs in the balance.
Overall sales didn’t instantly fall off after expiration, because the supplementary unemployment benefits were so large that they facilitated many receiving unemployment actually accumulating savings. There were also the 300 dollar FEMA payments that Trump authorized by executive order. These ran out in various states throughout September. The New York Times had some good reporting on a study based on JP Morgan bank accounts that showed the median checking account of those receiving direct deposits of unemployment benefits rose significantly early on, and then fell off significantly in August. The fall off in savings is probably less dramatic for the under- and unbanked receiving prepaid debit card balances or checks, with consequently larger drop-offs in spending when supplementary payments expired. A New York Federal Reserve survey from June showed similar results for the early part of the pandemic.
A similar story is told in the aggregate data. The saving rate peak coincided with the beginning of the stimulus check payments and supplemental unemployment benefits. As the stimulus checks were exhausted, the saving rate fell. It’s not possible to get a complete picture yet: we don’t have data for September, which will likely show larger declines. With the emergency FEMA payments declining, the desperation that has already racked millions of families is spreading — and so is the virus.
For now, the eviction wave I was most worried about in July seems to have been largely held off by the CDC eviction moratorium order. Though it’s hard to really tell how true that is given that we have no aggregate data on rental evictions, or homeowner foreclosures and evictions. Renters must submit a declaration to their landlord, which requires them to be aware of the CDC moratorium, to be able to go through the process. It also requires them to appear in court, and have proof that they submitted the declaration. This barrier makes this protection flimsier than it might seem after a glance at the moratorium order. Practically speaking, the “process servers” hired to supposedly deliver summons regularly lie about doing so, and are taken at their word by judges.
Even with successful recourse to the CDC moratorium, this moratorium doesn’t cancel rents. This means that we could get a spike of evictions January 1st. If the moratorium is extended, that still doesn’t deal with the looming threat of mass evictions in the longer term.
Which brings me to the major concern we face today. With each passing day, it becomes increasingly likely that there will not be any bill passed before the election in two weeks.
This would be an unqualified disaster. Without any passed legislation before the election, Democrats lose all leverage to push Senate Republicans to the table and the Trump administration will lose all interest in passing anything- especially if Trump loses.
This means we could possibly go until February 2021 before seeing another economic package. Worse, that package may even require a Democratic senate to become law. It’s possible that even that scenario is optimistic — it could then take a significant amount of time for Democrats to agree on a package among themselves. What happens to millions upon millions of people in that agonizing waiting period? A winter filled with a third wave of Coronavirus and no economic support to individuals is a recipe for absolute disaster — over 200,000 Americans have already died.
I hope I’m wrong — that a hasty deal will be struck, and that a fiscal package will become law in the short 15 days we have ahead of us. But I’m not optimistic.
October 19, 2020
Credit: Harvey Gulf
U.S. offshore support vessel company Harvey Gulf International has ordered Wärtsilä’s energy storage system for four of its platform supply vessels.
The order comes just after Harvey said in September it had completed an upgrade of its platform supply vessel Harvey Energy, making it the first “tri-fuel” PSV in the U.S.
The upgrade included a Wärtsilä battery-power system on the PSV which was already a dual-fuel vessel capable of fully operating on LNG or diesel.
Now, the company will have five offshore vessels capable of full tri-fuel operation, providing Harvey Gulf with flexible and fuel-efficient PSVs for Gulf of Mexico operations.
The four vessels, the ‘Harvey Power’, ‘Harvey Liberty’, ‘Harvey Freedom’, and ‘Harvey America’, will each be fitted with a Wärtsilä ESS comprising a Closed Bus-Tie 1360Kw Drive with 746 kWh 1100 VDC Batteries. The retrofitting project will start in 2021 and will be completed in early 2022.
According to Wärtsilä, the offshore vessels will be capable of closed bus Dynamic Positioning (DP) operation running only one engine augmented by the Wärtsilä Energy Storage System. When stationary in the field or in port, the platform suppliers will be able to operate on battery power only, reducing both fuel consumption and exhaust emissions.
Bill Amundsen, Key Account Manager for Wärtsilä Marine Power, said: “Wärtsilä is very pleased and proud to partner with Harvey Gulf in yet another ground-breaking project bringing technological advancement to the North American marine market. The combination of cutting edge technology, strong customer service, and Harvey Gulf’s market-leading business approach has resulted in a very successful partnership,” says
“The conversion to tri-fuel technology is a tremendous addition to our already successful HARVEY ENERGY class PSV’s. Wärtsilä’s advanced technology and its unwavering commitment to service support were extremely important factors in our decision to select them for this project,” said Shane Guidry, Harvey Gulf President and CEO.
Oil company Equinor, with partners Shell and Total, will grant open access to data from the 31/5-7 Eos offshore well drilled earlier this year as part of the Northern Lights carbon capture and storage project.
The Northern Lights is a project sanctioned in May 2020. It is planned to be developed in phases. Phase 1 includes the capacity to transport, injection, and storage of up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Once the CO2 is captured onshore by industrial CO2-emitters, Northern lights will be responsible for transport by ships, injection, and permanent storage some 2,500 meters below the seabed.
The three companies in March completed the drilling of confirmation well 31/5-c7 Eos south of the Troll field in the North Sea. The purpose was to determine the suitability of the reservoir in the Johansen formation for CO₂ storage, as part of the Northern Lights project. The data acquired from drilling well 31/5-7 confirmed a suitable reservoir for the storage of CO2.
It was determined that the cap rock consisted of impermeable claystone called Drake Formation, which prevents the CO2 from migrating out of the Dunlin Group.
Now, Equinor says that the project partners will disclose datasets from the confirmation well 31/5-7 Eos. Per the company, extensive amounts of data have been acquired through coring, logging, sampling, and a production test.
“Willing to share knowledge in a transparent manner the Northern Lights projects partners have decided to give open access to 31/5 Eos well data and make such data available for download,” Equinor said in a statement.
“The Northern Lights project believes data sharing can play an important role in building trust in the technology as well as unlocking value and innovation potential in the CCS industry”, says Sverre Overå, project director.
“Disclosing the Northern Lights dataset is in line with our focus on external collaboration and more open innovation. We believe open innovation will contribute to new ideas and new digital solutions enabling acceleration of decarbonization of the world’s energy systems. We encourage data sharing to support partners, suppliers, and academia with the latest data and developments in the industry”, says Torbjørn Folgerø, the chief digital officer at Equinor.
The gathered data will be made available via Equinor’s OMNIA platform. The released data disclose relevant subsurface data including well log data, core data, and well test data. They can be used by interested parties for evaluation and research for the benefit of the emerging CCS business, Equinor said.
The dataset comprises approximately 850 files and more than 83 Gigabytes and can be accessed through the Equinor data portal.]]>
By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.
I intended to write about the pandemic’s impact on food security today. As regular readers know, the pandemic has brought this problem to the fore, and it is an issue over which I have great concern. Yet while food security has indeed wobbled as a result of the pandemic, in many places not accustomed to seeing food supply problems, there has yet to be a widespread lack of food – despite many areas experiencing shortages of particular foodstuffs (see Food Security: UN Warns People Are Vulnerable to Shortages as the COVID-19 Pandemic Continues).
Although there have been clusters of infection concentrated among those who produce our food – take, as just a few examples, meatpackers in the U.S. and Germany, and migrant or temporary workers who sow, tend, or harvest food – so far, these problems have been manageable to the security of our food supply. (I leave aside the dire impact on workers; see for a discussion of U.S.meatpackers, Meatpacking Companies Dismissed Years of Warnings but Now Say Nobody Could Have Prepared for COVID-19.)
I’m not sure what will happen if the pandemic continues, particularly in regions that account for major shares of local or international food production. But the assumed ability to continue to feed ourselves adequately is by no means a certainty, as the pandemic continues and spreads in much of the world. And one of humanity’s scourges throughout its history – famine – may therefore be set to make an unwelcome comeback.
Against this grim backdrop, however, what I do want to focus on today is a paper published by the International Food Policy Research Institute, and summarised n The Wire, After Abysmal Hunger Index Rank, Paper Points Out 3 of 4 Rural Indians Can’t Afford Nutritious Diet. To those who don’t know that much about India, I want to highlight that the bulk of the population resides in rural areas, where people produce the food that they and the rest of the country rely on to consume.
So it’s especially sad these rural Indians cannot afford a nutritious diet – and that this problem predates the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. How many years are we into the so-called Green Revolution and the problem of the adequacy of a nutritious food supply persists?
Over to The Wire:
India has ranked 94 among 107 nations in the Global Hunger Index 2020 and is in the ‘serious’ hunger category. Experts have blamed poor implementation processes, lack of effective monitoring, a siloed approach in tackling malnutrition and poor performance by large states.
Published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Policy, this latest paper, titled Affordability of nutritious diets in rural India, is written by the Institute’s economist Kalyani Raghunathan and researcher Derek D. Headey, along with senior researcher Anna Herforth.
The paper arrives at the conclusion that ‘malnutrition is endemic in India,’ based on information on rural food price and wages gleaned from the 2011 National Sample Survey. The writers use this data to arrive at “the least cost means of satisfying India-specific dietary recommendations…and assess the affordability of this diet relative to male and female wages for unskilled labourers.”
In spite of the fact that, “in 2015-16 some 38% of preschool children were stunted and 21% were wasted, while more than half of Indian mothers and children were anaemic,” the paper finds that “surprisingly few” discuss the role of diets, particularly the affordability of nutritious diets in India.
The Wire featured another recent post in the last few days, highlighting Ithe country’s poor global hunger ranking India Ranks 94 Among 107 Countries in Global Hunger Index 2020. This is a statistic that is prominently left out of the breathless summaries that laud the country’s entry into the middle class.
Effect of the Pandemic
Now, the pandemic has almost certainly worsened India’s hunger problem. The country experienced an extended stringent lockdown that began in March. In spite of this policy, India is at the moment second only to the U.S. in the number of coronavirus cases recorded – although its infection rate has seemingly peaked. It has yet to open up for international flights. Interestingly, despite its relatively poor health care system, its COVID-19 mortality rate is one of the world average, and there is much speculation as to why this is so (see India has one of the world’s lowest Covid-19 mortality rates. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story).
So far, however, India has avoided the outright famine that has afflicted it before, as I previously noted in Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread: Coronavirus and Food Security. Most recently, during World War Two, the country lost millions to the Bengal famine – an entirely preventable catastrophe that was a direct consequence of Raj policy – as opposed to some consequence of being at war. No less than the Indian Nobelist A.K. Sen made his academic bones by writing about this episode, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation, and concluded that democracy helps countries avoid famines.
At this point, undernourished rural Indians are no longer confronting outright starvation, but instead suffer from the lack of a nutritious diet. According to the Hindu, one of India’s leading newspapers, 76% of rural Indians can’t afford a nutritious diet: study:
Unlike the Economic Survey’s Thalinomics, which provided a rosier picture of meal costs, this study uses the wages of unskilled workers who make up a larger proportion of the population than industrial workers, and includes items such as dairy, fruit and dark green leafy vegetables that are essential as per India’s official dietary guidelines.
The findings are significant in the light of the fact that India performs abysmally on many nutrition indicators even while the country claims to have achieved food security. On Friday, the Global Hunger Index showed that India has the world’s highest prevalence of child wasting, reflecting acute undernutrition. On indicators that simply measure calorie intake, India performs relatively better, but they do not account for the nutrition value of those calories.
The National Institute for Nutrition’s guidelines for a nutritionally adequate diet call for adult women to eat 330 gm of cereals and 75 gm of pulses a day, along with 300 gm of dairy, 100 gm of fruit, and 300 gm of vegetables, which should include at least 100 gm of dark green leafy vegetables. Selecting the cheapest options from actual Indian diets — wheat, rice, bajra, milk, curd, onions, radish, spinach, bananas — the study calculated that a day’s meals would cost ₹45 (or ₹51 for an adult man).
Even if they spent all their income on food, 63.3% of the rural population or more than 52 crore Indians would not be able to afford that nutritious meal. If they set aside just a third of their income for non-food expenses, 76% of rural Indians would not be able to afford the recommended diet. This does not even account for the meals of non-earning members of a household, such as children or older adults.
“These numbers are somewhat speculative, but they do reveal the scale of the dietary affordability problem in rural India: nutritious diets are too expensive, and incomes far too low,” says the paper.
The paper itself is interesting to read – and short, so I reproduce it for interested readers here, Affordability of nutritious diets in rural India. But it lacks any takeaway charts, for those who are visually inclined. Hence my reliance on the widely accessible, secondary press summaries.
The message: pre-pandemic, the International Food Policy Research Institute concluded that most rural Indians lack sufficient quantity of quality of foods to eat. The problem is persistent and will likely only get worse as a result of the COVD-19 pandemic, which has hit India particularly hard
Published on October 19th, 2020 |
by Dr. Maximilian Holland
October 19th, 2020 by Dr. Maximilian Holland
Following a Bloomberg News report in September that Tesla planned to ship the Shanghai made Tesla Model 3 to Europe, customer pre-order agreements in France and Germany are now showing up with “Model 3 – China” in the description:
Next Model 3 SR+ will come from China, it’s official @BlogTeslaFr @TSLAEnFR @Teslarati @teslabros @teslaownersSV @TeslaStars @Model3Owners @TeslaWolfy @WholeMarsBlog @Tesmanian_com https://t.co/gEo48fiFVe
— Green Drive Tesla Accessories (@GreenDriveTesl1) October 18, 2020
This image pops up on my @Tesla Facebook page – This means that i was right with my earlier assumption that these cars would be heading to Europe. Its a German VIN allocation. @jpr007 https://t.co/Hq1BvNRYl2 pic.twitter.com/N7t6MrPo4c
— Armand Vervaeck (@ArmandVervaeck) October 18, 2020
These pre-order documents appear to be for the Model 3 SR+ variants.
The LFP batteries supplied by CATL are also reported to now be installed in the Shanghai Model 3 SR+ vehicles:
Tesla MIC Model 3 starts installing #CATL #LFP batteries, #China media citing MIIT Sep production certificates.
NEDC: 468 km pic.twitter.com/jslaw5DPoW
— Moneyball (@DKurac) October 15, 2020
So it seems likely that any Tesla Model 3 vehicles that get shipped from the Shanghai Gigafactory to customers in Europe will include the new LFP batteries.
According to documents from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the LFP variant of the Model 3 SR+ actually has slightly higher range rating (468km NEDC) than the previous nickel-based battery version of the SR+ (originally 445 km NEDC). Although NEDC ratings are over-optimistic, the relative gain in range (~5%) will likely be preserved in real world use.
Furthermore, like most LFP chemistries, the LFP pack variant of the Model 3 is very robust for charging, even for charging habitually to 100%, according to Tesla’s customer support:
A little interesting tidbit about Model 3 SR+ with LFP batteries
(from official Tesla support):
You can always charge to 100%.
Actually customers are encouraged to charge to 100% at least once a week.
Pretty convenient IMO pic.twitter.com/1p4eb6d80R
— 特拉风T☰SLA mania (@Tesla__Mania) October 15, 2020
It will also be interesting to see if Tesla has increased the DC charging power, or modified the charging curve, on the LFP version of the Model 3.
What’s Tesla’s strategy here? We know that LFP batteries are cheaper and less mineral constrained than nickel based batteries. LFP batteries are going to become the main pillar for most of Tesla’s standard range vehicles (its most affordable and highest selling vehicles globally) for the foreseeable future.
Currently Tesla is only confirmed to have supply agreements for LFP batteries from CATL for the China made vehicles. This will likely evolve in the future as CATL and other LFP cell producers are setting up factories in Europe, which will be able to be supplied to Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory.
For the moment though, the only way for Tesla to get its most affordable and lowest cost (LFP) Model 3s to European customers is to ship them in from Shanghai, since that’s the only place they are made.
Shanghai Tesla Model 3 / Image: Tesla
Although the combination of the original Bloomberg report and these recent pre-order documents do appear to add up to strong evidence, and the business case for Tesla makes sense, we’ll have to wait for further details in order to be able to fully confirm this news.
We’ll be on the lookout for any official updates from Tesla, or reports from from European customers once the vehicles are delivered.
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October 19, 2020
File photo: Halliburton
Halliburton Co posted its fourth-straight quarterly loss on Monday, as the world’s second-largest oilfield services provider struggles with a plunge in demand and lower oil prices.
Even though oil prices have recouped some of their losses from the historic lows of March and April, fresh lockdowns in some parts of the world due to a resurgence in COVID-19 infections is threatening that recovery.
Larger rival Schlumberger NV on Friday posted a third-straight quarterly loss and warned that the recent economic recovery remained “fragile”.
Halliburton, which last year recorded more than half of its business from North America, saw revenue from the region drop 66.6% to $984 million in the third quarter.
Total revenue fell 46.4% to $2.98 billion.
Net loss attributable to the company was $17 million, or 2 cents per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a profit of $295 million, or 34 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company took $133 million in severance and other charges, excluding which it posted adjusted earnings of 11 cents per share.
(Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)
Jerri-Lynn here. As COVID-19 cases spike in the US and among European countries that had seemed until recently to have the pandemic under control, I want to reiterate what policies we know work to stem to spread of the virus.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I repeat these tried and tested messages.
Yet at the moment, these policies are all we have. These basic elements of pandemic control are well and widely known, and that has been so for quite some time. Indeed, they have again been successfully deployed to arrest the spread of COVID-19 by many Asian and antipodean countries, some of which have far less resources to devote to health care than in either the US or Europe.
Lockdowns also have can be effective, yet the World Health Organisation (WHO) says they need to be short and sharp, and are of much less utility if they are loose and open-ended. The reputation of the WHO has taken a beating throughout the pandemic – aided and abetted by hostile Trump administration criticisms – so it’s important to drill down to figure out what the WHO is actually saying.
Well-done contact tracing has been an effective policy, deployed by some Asian countries which still enjoy admirable infection rates. In some cases, these model countries never implemented full lockdowns. Yet countries that have adopted the neoliberal playbook have demonstrated their inability to do contact tracing effectively, largely because they cannot figure out a way to monetise. the process (see here for a representative criticism, among the multiple posts I have written on the topic).
By Hassan Vally, associate professor LaTrobe University.Originally published at The Conversation. Originally published at The Conversation.
Last week the World Health Organisation’s special envoy on COVID-19, David Nabarro, said:
We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary measure for the control of the virus.
This has created confusion and frustration, as many people have interpreted this as running counter to WHO’s previous advice on dealing with the pandemic. Haven’t most of us spent some or most of the past few months living in a world of lockdowns and severe restrictions, based on advice from the WHO?
Dig a little deeper, however, and these comments are not as contrary as they might seem. They merely make explicit the idea that lockdowns are just one of many different weapons we can deploy against the coronavirus.
Lockdowns are a good tactic in situations where transmission is spiralling out of control and there is a threat of the health system being overwhelmed. As Nabarro says, they can “buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources”.
But they should not be used as the main strategy against COVID-19 more broadly. And the decision to impose a lockdown should be considered carefully, with the benefits weighed against the often very significant consequences.
Lockdowns also have a disproportionate impact on the most disadvantaged people in society. This cost is greater still in poorer countries, where not going to work can mean literally having no food to eat.
So if lockdowns are best used as a short, sharp measure to stop the coronavirus running rampant, what other strategies should we be focusing on to control the spread of COVID-19 more generally? Here are four key tactics.
1. Testing, Contact Tracing and Isolation
The key pillars in the public health response to this pandemic have always been testing, contract tracing, and isolating cases. This has been the clear message from the WHO from the beginning, and every jurisdiction that has enjoyed success in controlling the virus has excelled in these three interlinked tasks.
No one disputes the importance of being able to identify cases and make sure they don’t spread the virus. When we identify cases, we also need to work out where and by whom they were infected, so we can quarantine anyone who may also have been exposed. The goal here is to interrupt transmission of the virus by keeping the infected away from others.
Time is of the essence. People should be tested as soon as they develop symptoms, and should isolate immediately until they know they are in the clear. For positive cases, contact tracing should be done as quickly as possible. All of this helps limit the virus’s spread.
2. Responding to Clusters
Responding to disease clusters in an effective, timely manner is also vitally important. We’ve all seen how certain environments, such as aged-care homes, can become breeding grounds for infections, and how hard it is to control these clusters once they gain momentum.
Bringing clusters under control requires decisive action, and countries that have been successful in combating the virus have used a range of strategies to do it. Vietnam, which has been lauded for its coronavirus response despite its large population and lack of resources, has worked hard to “box in the virus” when clusters were identified. This involved identifying and testing people up to three degrees of separation from a known case.
3. Educating the Public
Another crucial element of a successful coronavirus response is giving the public clear advice on how to protect themselves. Public buy-in is vital, because ultimately it is the behaviour of individuals that has the biggest influence on the virus’s spread.
Everyone in the community should understand the importance of social distancing and good hygiene. This includes non-English speakers and other minority groups. Delivering this message to all members of the community requires money and effort from health authorities and community leaders.
After some confusion at the beginning of the pandemic, it is now almost universally accepted that public mask-wearing is a cheap and effective way to slow disease transmission, particularly in situations where social distancing is difficult.
As a result, masks — although unduly politicised in some quarters — have been rapidly accepted in many societies that weren’t previously used to wearing them.