Bitcoin bulls were happy with the news. The cryptocurrency rose 9% Sunday to more than $39,000.
Presumably clean means renewable, with the energy for mining coming from solar, wind, and hydroelectricity facilities. About 39% is done with clean energy now, according to a September 2020 University of Cambridge report.
How long will it take to get to 50%? Back in 2018, Cambridge found about 28% of the energy miners used was renewable, so renewable usage jumped about 11% in two years. Based on that very simple observation, another two more years could get the renewable rate close to 50%.
But the amount of energy used to mine cryptocurrencies is rising too. Energy consumption rose roughly 50% from 2018 to 2020, and is close to the annual electricity consumption of Chile and New Zealand combined.
If the amount needed to mine Bitcoin grows faster than the use of renewables, it could take a while to reach 50%.
*** In this week’s Barron’s Streetwise podcast, demand for solar is soaring, and it’s not just tree huggers. Columnist Jack Hough looks into why and speaks with Sunrun’s co-founder about Tesla, Ford’s F-150 lightning pickup, and a 50-year growth opportunity. Listen here.
Novavax Says Its Vaccine Is 90% Effective
Novavax on Monday said a late-stage trial of its coronavirus vaccine found it was effective, an encouraging sign in the worldwide fight against the pandemic. Novavax Chief Executive Stanley Erck told the Associated Press that many of its first doses will go to low- and middle-income countries.
- Its Phase 3 trial of nearly 30,000 patients in the U.S. and Mexico found the vaccine was 90.4% effective overall and 100% effective in protecting against moderate and severe disease. The company will file for regulatory approval in the third quarter and is on track to reach manufacturing capacity of 100 million doses by the end of the third quarter.
- In the U.S., employers are grappling with how best to handle requiring Covid-19 vaccinations in the workforce. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says companies can legally ask employees for their vaccination status but must accommodate for religious beliefs, allergies, or other health concerns, without discriminating or violating confidentiality.
Some employers like Saks and
Delta Air Lines
are mandating vaccines for certain employees. Others, including
are strongly encouraging but not mandating vaccinations. Montana has passed a bill prohibiting employers from requiring that new employees be vaccinated, and other states are considering similar measures.
Several companies are offering cash incentives to boost employee vaccinations. Publix is offering $125,
is offering $100,
is offering up to $80, and
is giving $75.
is offering $50 and an extra day off next year.
What’s Next: A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by Houston Methodist Hospital employees, rejecting their claims that the vaccines are “experimental and dangerous.” The hospital, which suspended 178 employees who had refused the vaccine, said it will terminate suspended employees who do not get vaccinated by June 21.
—Janet H. Cho and Steve Goldstein
NATO Expected to Toughen Stance on China
President Joe Biden takes part Monday in a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels, where the alliance members could for the first time deem China a security risk.
- Leaders of the G-7 of the world’s largest democracies took a firm stance over the weekend over Taiwan and human rights abuses and forced labor practices in China.
- The G-7 also challenged Beijing over its “non-market policies and practices which undermine the fair and transparent operation of the global economy.”
- According to diplomats quoted by Reuters, NATO will stop short from calling China an adversary but will call it a “systemic” security challenge to the alliance.
- The G-7 leaders also announced the launch of a “Build Back Better for the World” (B3W) initiative to counter China’s “Belt and Road” program of infrastructure spending in poor countries.
What’s Next: Biden should find it easier to convince NATO members of the need for a strong message to China, after European leaders at the G-7 proved more cautious about how to respond to Beijing’s assertiveness—leaving B3W, for now, an initiative without proper financing.
Shell Reportedly Mulling Sale of Texas Shale
Royal Dutch Shell,
the British-Dutch oil major, is contemplating the sale of its holdings in the Permian Basin, the U.S.’s largest oil field, for an amount that could exceed $10 billion, Reuters reported quoting people familiar with the matter.
- Shell derived 6% of its total oil and gas output from the Permian Basin last year. Permian production accounts for about 40% of total U.S. output.
- The company said last month that it would accelerate its plan for energy transition after a Dutch court ordered it in a landmark ruling to cut its greenhouse gas emission by 45% by 2030, compared to the 2019 level.
- A disposal would help shrink the oil giant’s net debt, which stood at $71 million in March. Shell declined to comment on Reuters’ news.
What’s Next: A sale, if it goes through, would accelerate consolidation in the Permian Basin, as major oil companies are increasingly challenged not only by courts, but by investors, to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, including by disposing of their assets in nonrenewable resources.
Investors Eye Fed Meeting For Any Hints At Policy Change
This week features the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, coming less than a week after government data showed inflation surged the most in 13 years as consumer prices jumped 5% in May from a year ago. More economic data will be released later this week along with a smattering of earnings.
- The Fed’s meeting will be followed by a monetary-policy decision and a press conference with Chairman Jerome Powell Wednesday afternoon, and investors will focus on talk of inflation and bond-purchase tapering.
- Committee members will publish their dot-plot chart, which shows their forecasts for the timing of the first rate increase. Analysts expect some dots won’t show a change until 2023.
During a slow period for earnings reports,
will tell investors about their latest results, while
host their annual shareholder meetings on Monday.
What’s Next: Policy makers are focusing on economic data. This week’s releases include the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ producer-price index for May and the Census Bureau’s retail-sales data for May, both on Tuesday.
Cruise Operators Headed Toward Standoff With States
Cruise ship operators are heading toward a standoff with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other states that are fighting vaccine mandates for employees and passengers as the industry prepares to start sailing out of U.S. ports this month.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in April that cruise ships could begin sailing without test cruises if 98% of its crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The CDC still warns travelers to avoid cruise ships because of the “very high” risk of Covid-19.
- Florida, Texas and Alabama, which all have cruise ports, passed laws prohibiting businesses from requiring “vaccine passports,” or proof of vaccination. Florida, which will impose a $5,000 fine for each violation, has sued to force the restart of cruises.
Celebrity Cruises requires all passengers eligible for vaccines to be inoculated. For trips from Florida, passengers who don’t show proof face extra fees and restrictions, while
encourages but doesn’t require vaccinations.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Line
both require vaccines.
- Concerns arose after the Celebrity Millennium, which left St. Maarten on June 5 with all crew members and passengers 16 and older fully vaccinated, reported that two guests tested positive during a routine screening on board. The passengers were isolated and flown home, and the cruise continued.
What’s Next: The Celebrity Edge will depart Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on June 26 as the first major cruise ship to sail from a U.S. port this year. The ship is requiring all crew members and passengers 16 and older to show proof of vaccination before they board.
—Janet H. Cho
MarketWatch Wants to Hear From You
Inflation has hit a 13-year high, and consumers are feeling the pinch from higher prices. But there are some people who stand to benefit when inflation increases. Who are they?
A MarketWatch correspondent will answer this question soon. In the meantime, send any questions you would like answered to [email protected]
—Newsletter edited by Liz Moyer, Stacy Ozol, Matt Bemer, Ben Levisohn