Weekly Roundup – Masters of Autonomous Trucks

Hey Influence Traders,

Its the weekend, which means its time for the Weekly Roundup.

We’ve got big winners and losers … and a first to the public markets.

The Highlights

        • We have a new Masters champion – a first-timer from Japan.
        • Crypto is ON FIRE!
        • SpaceX is going to the moon.
        • Vaccine hiccups.
        • An auto-driving company has come to market.
        • DC Action

On the Washington front, President Biden made some key foreign policy moves, including:

        • Slapping sanctions on Russia in retaliation for alleged hacking and meddling in the U.S. election.
        • Announcing an American troop pullout from Afghanistan.

Power Mover of the Week

      • Crypto: Coinbase’s (Ticker: COIN) successful direct listing, with a final valuation of $86 billion, is an indication that the market is taking crypto assets seriously.

Coinbase now has a higher market valuation than the operators of the traditional stock and bond exchanges.

In addition, Coinbase and a few other firms announced the establishment of a new trade group with “a mission to unlock the transformational promise of crypto.”

The Crypto Council for Innovation hopes to influence policies that will be critical for expanding the use of cryptocurrencies in conjunction with traditional finance (and, by extension, the businesses of the group’s members).

Not everyone is as upbeat

        • Turkey’s central bank has banned the use of cryptocurrencies to pay for goods and services. Turks have embraced cryptos due to a lack of confidence in the Turkish lira. Crypto trading volume in Turkey reached 218 billion lira in February and March, up from just 7 billion lira during the same period a year ago. Today, just one Bitcoin could buy nearly half a million liras.
        • China previously banned Bitcoin trading in 2017.
        • India is preparing to impose one of the strictest bans on cryptocurrencies and fines on those trading and holding assets.
        • Nigeria has also indicated that it might impose restrictions on the use of BTC over fears that it is eroding the value of their local currency.

  • SpaceX – Elon Musk’s team beat out Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin team to win a NASA contract for a lunar lander.

  • Japanese Golf: Congratulations to Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama, who took home the green jacket and almost $2.1 million in prize money. He is the first person from Japan to win the tournament.

  • Pandemic Billionaires: It was announced that nearly 500 People became billionaires during this pandemic year. My name was mysteriously left off the list.

  • Cuba: Raúl Castro announced that he was ceding leadership of Cuba’s Communist Party, which means the island nation will not be led by a Castro for the first time in over 60 years.

The word on the street is that Cuba’s next generation of leaders will announce reforms to reorient the country toward a socialist system and away from the Communist model that has stalled the island since Fidel came to power in 1959.

But my Power Mover of the Week is – Domestic Green Energy

President Biden has begun his push to have his infrastructure bill, with its large green energy focus, passed through congress. He has been going on road shows and hosted a bipartisian coalition of legislators at the White House to pledge working together.

Solar will be a key component of Biden’s infrastructure plans.

One of the top areas for the production of solar panels in the world is Xinjiang, China. But companies around the world are under pressure to sever ties with Xinjiang after wide-spread reports of human rights abuses in that region.

Rare earth mining is also integral to solar and wind farm production. The largest producer of rare earths is China and some of the largest reserves are in Greenland.

But voters in Greenland just ousted a government that wanted to attract foreign companies eager to tap the island’s rare-earth metals.

The opposition Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) won a majority of seats in parliament.

Environmental concerns were on the top of voters’ minds. The IA pledged to shelve plans to allow a mining project at Kuannersuit. About two-thirds of Greenlanders are against letting the mining project go ahead.

That pledge deals a blow to Chinese-backed Greenland Minerals.

Power Loser of the Week

      • Gary Player’s Son: Wayne Player, Gary Player’s son and caddie at the Masters, got himself kicked out of Augusta

Prior to the start, the tournament honored Lee Elder. During that ceremony, of which Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were partaking, Wayne attempted to promote a brand of golf balls that his dad has an interest in. He held the sleeve up throughout most of the ceremony … and was rightfully booted.

Traditions, not sleeves of balls, are to be upheld, sir.

      • Teen Tea Drinkers: My teenage daughter loves boba tea (also known as bubble tea). But increasing overseas demand and supply chain issues for tapioca from Taiwan, the base of the black pearls used in tea, have caused short supply.

The boba shortage is another example of the snarled global supply chains.

      • Steve Cohen: Mr. Cohen, the Mets owner, dumped his Manhattan penthouse at a 74% discount.

Cohen bought the place in 2005 for $24 million. He put it on the market in 2013 for $115 million, but dropped the price a number of times over the years, with the last price set at $45 million. The final sale price won’t be known until the deal closes, but at $29.5 million, it’s a 74% discount.

But my Power Loser of the week is Euro Vaccines.

      • AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson: As a result of side effects, including blood clots, the E.U. announced that it was unlikely to buy new doses of those vaccines.

Self-Driving Trucks

Biden has started his push to get his infrastructure bill passed, including road shows and courting a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the oval office.

And while Biden has made clear, publicly and privately, that he wants Republican support, the White House is also preparing to go it alone, if necessary, to get the bill passed.

That could put the GOP in a difficult position as a majority of voters seem to support certain levels of infrastructure spending.

Biden has stated that a key to his infrastructure plans will be to upgrade overland transport.

And this week the transport industry got a boost when TuSimple Holdings Inc. (Ticker: TSP) became the first dedicated self-driving vehicle maker to go public.

TSP raised $1.35 billion at a $9 billion valuation and will use the money to develop a fully autonomous fleet, which the company aims to start producing in 2024 with partner Navistar.

While the development of self-driving taxis has seen a lot of press, self-driving trucks could move more quickly to acceptance given their routes are more predictable, they conserve fuel costs and long-haul truckers are in short supply.

While the company advertises that it is a San Diego based entity, there have been questions raised about the influence of Chinese ownership. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in TSP’s stock price.

Cutting Through the Noise for You.

Frank

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