EV Timeline in U.S. May Be Pushed Back Because of Lack of Critical Minerals

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White House notes ‘cost cutting’ efforts in inflation debate, again focuses on big meat packers
 


In Today’s Digital Newspaper


Market Focus:
• Biden tells CNN that U.S. is at the “peak” of the inflation crisis
• White House notes ‘cost cutting’ efforts
• FedEx will sell space on empty container imports as congestion-bypass service
• Biggest central banks to make announcements on policy this week 
• Inflation surging in Brazil
• What is maximum U.S. employment?
• Has stock market priced in the rate hikes coming?

• SPR update: DOE to issue notice of sale for 18 million barrels of crude, with that to take place Dec. 17
• Lumber leaped 4.4% Friday and marked a weekly gain of 17.93%
• Lithium prices are rising at their fastest pace in years… impact on EVs
• What will impact ag markets ahead? 

Policy Focus:
• Inflation fuels Manchin’s concern about BBB
• Will agriculture program spending be on chopping block ahead if Democrats pass BBB?
• USDA publishes rule for supplemental DMC payments as signup starts 

Afghanistan:
• Donors to World Bank agree to release $280 million to help Afghanistan 

Personnel:
• Biden named Cathy Russell to serve as the next executive director of UNICEF 

China Update:
• Treasury Department blocks Americans from investing in SenseTime, a Chinese AI firm 

Trade Policy:
• Biden wants to sign a “very powerful” economic framework agreement with Asian nations  
• Canada links dairy policy in EV dispute with U.S. 

Energy & Climate Change:
• Biden halts federal aid to new fossil fuel projects overseas
• Vilsack provides perspective on EPA’s RFS announcement
• EV charging action plan coming
• Yellen instructing financial regulators take steps to reduce risks tied to climate change

Signup process open for biofuel producer payments

Livestock, Food & Beverage Industry Update:
• White House again targets big meat processors

Coronavirus Update:
• As U.S. nears 800,000 virus deaths, 1 of every 100 older Americans has perished
• Pfizer to determine if separate Omicron-specific vaccine is needed
• Pennsylvania Supreme Court ends school mask mandate 

Politics & Elections:
• Cordoza declared winner in Virginia House recount, confirming 52-48 Republican majority
• Maryland General Assembly overrides governor’s veto of new congressional district map

Congress:
• Manchin will meet with Senate moderates on Tuesday re: voting rights measure

Other Items of Note:
• Russia demands NATO retract pledge to admit Ukraine and Georgia
• G7 warns Russia to de-escalate around Ukraine or face ‘massive consequences’
• Nord Stream 2 pipeline ‘a source of leverage’ over Russia: Blinken
• Supreme Court rules abortion clinics can challenge Texas’ ban on most abortions


MARKET FOCUS


Equities today: Global stock markets were mostly firmer in overnight trading. U.S. stock indexes are also pointed toward mildly higher openings. Earnings reports this week include Campbell Soup on Tuesday; Lennar, Accenture, FedEx, Rivian Automotive, and Adobe on Thursday; and Darden Restaurants on Friday. the week. The Nikkei rose 202.82 points, 0.71%, at 28,640.49. The Hang Seng Index fell 41.14 points, 0.17%, at 23,954.58. European equities are moving higher. The Stoxx 600 was up 0.5% with other markets up 0.2% to more than 1% while the FTSE was shifting between losses and gains.

     U.S. equities Friday: The Dow rose 216.30 points, 0.06%, at 35,970.99. The Nasdaq rose 113.23 points, 0.73%, at 15,630.60. The S&P 500 finished up 44.57 points, 0.95%, at a record 4,712.02.

     For the week, the Dow was up 4% (it's still off 1.3% from its record close, set on Nov. 8.), the S&P 500 Index gained 3.8% and the Nasdaq rose 3.6%. The Dow recorded its biggest weekly percentage gain since March, while the S&P 500 Index and Nasdaq each had their largest weekly percentage gain since February.

     Stocks

On tap today (see detailed list of events and reports below):

     • USDA Weekly Grain Export Inspections report, 11 a.m. ET.

President Joe Biden told CNN that U.S. is at the “peak” of the inflation crisis and we’ll see that change “sooner, quicker, more rapidly than most people think.” Said Biden: “Every other aspect of the economy is racing ahead. It’s doing incredibly well. We've never had this kinda growth in 60 years. But inflation is affecting people’s lives. But if you take a look at it, if and when, and God willing we get the Build Back Better proposal… what’s inflation all about for people? They are paying more for things they need than they had to pay before. That’s the bottom line. Now, if they're paying considerably less for childcare, considerably less for health care, considerably less for insulin, considerably less and go down the list, being able to take care of their parents, all of the things that are in the Build Back Better plan. The reason why economists think it is going to in fact diminish the impact on inflation is because it’s reducing costs for ordinary people.”

     White House notes ‘cost cutting’ efforts. In a memo (link) released Saturday, White House officials defended the administration’s “swift and decisive action to combat high prices, ease inflationary pressures and make sure America’s families can put food on the table,” citing the investments in small meat processors and federal grants to help farm goods move in and out of the nation’s congested ports.

     Inflation Watch
     Price increases

FedEx will sell space on empty container imports as a congestion-bypass service. Shippers can cut 20 days' worth of transit time port-to-port, FedEx Logistics CEO Udo Lange said.

Biggest central banks in the world will all make highly anticipated announcements on policy this week. The final decisions for 2021 due at the U.S. Federal Reserve (Wed.), European Central Bank (Thurs.), Bank of Japan (Fri.) and Bank of England (Thurs.), which are together responsible for monetary policy in almost half of the world economy. They won’t be alone — about 16 counterparts also meet this week, including those in Switzerland, Norway, Mexico and Russia.

  • Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is ready to announce the Bank of Canada’s new inflation targeting mandate. Trudeau’s finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, will hold a joint news conference with Governor Tiff Macklem today at 11 a.m. in Ottawa, according to an advisory from her office. The central bank has scheduled an embargoed briefing for journalists beforehand, and will publish the documents at 10 a.m.
  • United States: Sources expect the Federal Reserve to double its reduction of securities purchases at the FOMC meeting ending Wednesday, Dec. 15. If so, that will allow the central bank to start raising short-term interest rates in June of next year, rather than in the fall. But, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has also pledged not to raise rates until the central bank has stopped buying securities; thus the need to accelerate tapering.
  • European Union Central Bank: The European Central Bank is contending with record inflation, rising Covid-19 cases and continued supply-chain disruptions. That leaves officials with a delicate balancing act at their December policy meeting on Thursday, when they are expected to lay out plans to wind down an emergency program of bond purchases launched in 2020 to counter the effects of the pandemic.
  • Bank of England: The Bank of England had been expected to lift interest rates at its December meeting on Thursday, but the Wall Street Journal notes that some economists say the emergence of the Omicron variant and new Covid-19 restrictions make it more likely that policy makers will remain on hold until February.
  • Japan: The Bank of Japan on Friday is expected to maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy as prices remain flat despite global inflationary pressures. The bank’s policy board will likely discuss whether to extend its special lending program to support companies affected by the pandemic. The program is set to expire in March 2022.

Inflation is surging in Brazil. While the global economy is forecast to grow more than 4% next year, including in countries bordering Brazil, more economists expect Brazil to remain stuck in recession during 2022 as it battles one of the world’s highest annual inflation rates of 10.7%.

     Brazil inflation  

Market perspectives:

     • Outside markets: The U.S. dollar index was slightly higher with the euro and British pound both weaker versus the greenback. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note was weaker to trade under 1.48% with a weaker tone in global government bond yields. Gold and silver futures were higher ahead of U.S. market hours, with gold around $1,788 per troy ounce and silver around $22.24 per troy ounce.

     • Crude oil futures have shifted lower ahead of U.S. trading, with U.S. crude around $71.35 per barrel and Brent around $74.80 per barrel. Crude prices rose in Asian action, with U.S. crude up 95 cents at $72.62 per barrel and Brent was up 84 cents at $75.99 per barrel.

     • SPR update: DOE to issue notice of sale for 18 million barrels of crude, with that to take place Dec. 17. And the Dept. of Energy (DOE) approved the first exchange of 4.8 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), going to Exxon Mobil.

     • What is maximum U.S. employment? The chart below, from the Financial Times, says you are looking at it because” job opens rose again in November, and the trend for jobless claims is plummeting.”

        Maximum employment

     • Has the stock market priced in the rate hikes that are coming, or does its euphoric optimism doom it to being surprised? That’s the “big question” posed via a Financial Times column. It says: “Historically, rate hiking cycles have been associated with positive stock market returns (sometimes very positive ones). In the 2016-19 cycle, it took almost two years (November 2016 to October 2018) of steady rate increases for the stock market to flinch.”

     • Lumber leaped 4.4% Friday and marked a weekly gain of 17.93%. Lumber has closed positive four of the last six weeks.

     • Lithium prices are rising at their fastest pace in years, setting off a race to secure supplies and fueling worries about long-term shortages of a vital ingredient in the rechargeable batteries that power everything from electric vehicles to smartphones. An index of lithium prices from research firm and price provider Benchmark Mineral Intelligence doubled between May and November and is up some 240% for the year. Driving the run up are bets on continued scarcity. Demand is multiplying as auto makers ramp up sales of electric vehicles. Supply, meanwhile, has been constrained by limited investment in new projects.

        Perspective: The surge in lithium prices suggests that it may take longer for EVs to become cost-competitive with gas-powered cars. There are other reasons, but most involve the role of critical minerals of which the U.S. relies on imports for nearly all clean-energy minerals. An EV requires more minerals (456 pounds) vs the average gas-powered car (75). Bottom line: The next super supply crunch will be for nickel, lithium, and other must-have minerals.

        Lithium prices

     • What will impact ag markets ahead? Richard Crow, trader and analyst, responds: “The markets have limited reports to influence markets until the Jan stocks and final production reports. Over the next three weeks, South America weather and impact of production, index rebalancing in January, and macroeconomic developments could be dominating variables.”

     • CFTC Commitments of Traders report (Source: Barron’s)

        CFTC

     • NWS weather: There is a Moderate of excessive rainfall over parts of Central California through Tuesday morning; There is a Slight Risk of excessive rainfall over parts of Southern California on Tuesday into Wednesday morning... ...Heavy snow over the Cascades, Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Northern Rockies... ...Elevated Fire Weather risk for parts of the Southern High Plains.

        NWS
        Wx Today


POLICY FOCUS


— Inflation fuels Manchin’s concern about BBB. Government reports on rising inflation and the potential costs of President Joe Biden's social and environment legislation raised fresh questions Friday about the bill's fate, with both sides hoping the new numbers would influence pivotal centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) regarding the fate of the Build Back Better (BBB) proposal. 

— Will agriculture program spending be on chopping block ahead if Democrats pass BBB? Democrats have said they would find ways to pay for any extensions of programs when they expire. That will be a task as soon as next year, as an expanded child tax credit expires at the end of this year.

     Background: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Friday released an estimate of the bill requested by Republicans that analyzed the cost of its provisions if they were extended indefinitely, rather than on the temporary basis Democrats have proposed. Under that assumption, the CBO analysis found that the legislation’s provisions under that would add roughly $3 trillion to the deficit over a decade. As written, and with provisions such as universal prekindergarten set to expire before 10 years, the bill would add about $231 billion to the deficit over a decade, the CBO analysis also found. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R=S.C.) said he made the request to the budget office at centrist Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.)  request. “Joe Manchin came to me and he said, ‘I think this bill is full of gimmicks, that these programs won’t go away, Lindsey, and if you score them for 10 years, I think the bill will double.’ Well, it didn’t double, it was almost 2.5 times,” he said Sunday on Fox

— USDA publishes rule for supplemental DMC payments as signup starts. Producers can start to enroll in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program for 2022 as of today and the supplemental DMC payments that were approved as part of Covid aid. The signup effort runs through Feb. 18. The final rule on the supplemental DMC plan was published in today’s Federal Register (link) in a package that covered several different program tweaks. The only portion that is open for public comment is relative to the Oriental Fruit Fly (OFF) Program as authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019. Comments there are due by Feb. 11.


AFGHANISTAN


— Donors to the World Bank agreed to release $280 million of previously frozen funds to help Afghanistan; the money will be given to the UN’s World Food Program and UNICEF, and be put towards “humanitarian assistance.” The WFP says that half of Afghanistan’s population face acute food shortages this winter.


PERSONNEL


— President Biden named Cathy Russell to serve as the next executive director of UNICEF. Russell is the director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and her history with Biden goes all the way back to his 1988 presidential campaign. She also served as Jill Biden’s chief of staff and had key roles during the presidential campaign and transition.


CHINA UPDATE


— U.S. Treasury Department blocked Americans from investing in SenseTime, a Chinese AI firm, for its role in supplying facial-recognition software to China’s government to surveil Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region. The blacklisting appears to have disrupted SenseTime’s plans to list in Hong Kong soon: it was expected to price its shares on Friday, but didn’t. The Biden administration also imposed sanctions on two officials in Xinjiang.  


TRADE POLICY


— Biden administration wants to sign a “very powerful” economic framework agreement with Asian nations. The coming accord will focus on areas including coordination on supply chains, export controls and standards for artificial intelligence. The timeline is sometime next year, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said. “It’s a priority for the president,” Raimondo, speaking in a roundtable discussion last week at Bloomberg headquarters in New York, said of deepening U.S. engagement with Asia. “America didn’t show up in that region for four years,” she said, alluding to the Trump administration’s record. Raimondo said that her trip to Asia last month was designed to “assess appetite” for economic dialog, under the condition that President Joe Biden’s team isn’t planning to take up traditional trade talks. She underscored that rejoining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) “as presented” is off the table. The framework will be “flexible,” with some countries perhaps not signing up to all of the elements, Raimondo said. She said the aim is to engage not just developed nations such as Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand but also emerging economies such as Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. She said the agreement may not “culminate” in something that would require approval by the U.S. Congress — which is needed for traditional trade agreements. “It won’t be a trade deal, but it could be very powerful.”

— Canada links dairy policy in EV dispute with United States. Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Trade Minister Mary Ng sent a letter (link) to eight U.S. Senate leaders outlining Canada’s concerns over electric vehicle tax credit provisions in Democrats’ social spending package. The correspondence mentioned dairy tariff-rate quotas and other Canadian concessions under the USMCA trade pact as areas for potential suspension should President Joe Biden’s spending package become law with the EV provisions in place. Canada fears the tax credit for American manufacturers will undermine its own efforts to produce electric vehicles in Ontario — the country's industrial heartland — and also undermine the integrated North American auto industry. "We are writing to register our objection in the strongest terms," said the letter, which emphasized that the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not want a confrontation.


ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE


— Biden halts federal aid to new fossil fuel projects overseas. The Biden administration has ordered an immediate halt to new federal support for coal plants and other carbon-intensive projects overseas, a major policy shift designed to fight climate change and accelerate renewable energy worldwide. The directive for the first time bars U.S. gov’t backing for future carbon-intensive ventures, potentially affecting billions of dollars in annual funding as well as diplomatic and technical assistance.

— Vilsack provides perspective on EPA’s RFS announcement. While higher mandated RVO volumes are on the table for 2022, the EPA proposed retroactively reducing the volumes that oil refineries were required to blend into the nation’s fuel supply for 2020. “It’s hard for me to understand why these policymakers didn’t make any reference to the impact that the pandemic had on transportation. … We were all hunkered down. So as a result, less fuel was used,” Vilsack said Friday. “What the EPA has done is, it sent a strong message about the validity of the rule and the validity of the standard by saying this is the real world. This is what really has happened by setting these numbers.” Vilsack also said that the agency’s decision to raise 2022 levels to the “highest volume ever” sent a “very strong message about the growth potential of this industry.”

— EV charging action plan coming. Vice President Kamala Harris, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy will travel to Maryland today to announce an “electric vehicle charging action plan.”

— Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is instructing financial regulators under her watch to take steps to reduce risks tied to climate change. The WSJ reports (link) Yellen is leaning on agencies such as the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission to respond to what she says is the urgent threat posed by climate change to the economy and financial assets, such as a portfolio of mortgages in low-lying coastal areas or an insurance company’s backing of drought-sensitive farm land.

— Signup process open for biofuel producer payments. USDA is accepting applications for the Biofuel Producer Program (BPP) that was announced last week to provide $700 million in payments to biofuel producers. A Federal Register notice of funding availability (link) was published today (December 13) and indicated the aid will come through USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service under USDA Rural Development. The payments will be based upon the volume of market loss the biofuel producer experienced in calendar year 2020. The producer's volume of market loss will be calculated by comparing the amount of fuel (gallons of eligible biofuel) produced in calendar 2020 to the amount of fuel (gallons of eligible biofuel) produced in calendar year 2019. Payments will be based on a fixed amount per gallon for all eligible producers. USDA may limit the payment fixed amount per gallon, the notice said. Payments will not be issued until the signup period has ended.


LIVESTOCK, FOOD & BEVERAGE INDUSTRY


— Meat packers’ profit margins jumped 300% during pandemic: White House economics team. White House officials/economists continue to target U.S. meatpackers. Four of the biggest meat-processing companies, using their market power in the highly consolidated U.S. market to drive up meat prices and underpay farmers, have tripled their own net profit margins since the pandemic started, White House economic advisers said (link). Financial statements of the meat-processing companies — which control 55%–85 % of the market for beef, poultry, and pork — contradict claims that rising meat prices were caused by higher labor or transportation costs, advisers led by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese wrote in an analysis published on the White House website Friday. Officials studied earnings statements from Tyson Foods Inc., the chicken producer and biggest U.S. meat company by sales; Brazil-based JBS SA, the world’s biggest meatpacker; Brazilian beef producer Marfrig Global Foods SA which owns most of National Beef Packing Company; and Seaboard Corp. RIC. Those statements showed a 120 percent collective jump in their gross profits since the pandemic and a 500 percent increase in net income, the analysis shows. These companies recently announced $1 billion in new dividends and stock buybacks, on top of the more than $3 billion they paid to shareholders since the pandemic began.

     MeatMargins

     The North American Meat Institute, a meat trade group, accused the White House of “cherry-picking” data. “It is no coincidence this blog post appears on the same day as the Consumer Price Index is released showing gas and energy prices are up nearly 60% over the past 12 months which is nearly 10 times the rate of inflation for food,” President Julie Anna Potts said in a statement (link).

     Increases in meat prices accounted for 25% of the rise in consumer prices for food consumed at home in November, a big driver in the surge in inflation seen in recent months. Tyson increased the price of beef “so much — by more than 35% — that they made record profits while actually selling less beef than before,” the advisers wrote.


CORONAVIRUS UPDATE


Summary: Global cases of Covid-19 are at 270,218,553 with 5,308,045 deaths, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. case count is at 49,921,422 with 707,348 deaths. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center said that there have been 484,190,896 doses administered, 201,975,235 have been fully vaccinated, or 61.53% of the U.S. population.

— As U.S. nears 800,000 virus deaths, 1 of every 100 older Americans has perished. From the New York Times (link): “No group has suffered more than older Americans. All along, older people have been known to be more vulnerable, but the scale of loss is only now coming into full view.” Facts and figures: Some 75% of people who have died of the virus in the U.S. — or about 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 who have perished so far — have been 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400.

     Covid old

— Once a more accurate picture is assembled, Pfizer will determine if a separate Omicron-specific vaccine is needed. The company is already at work with a jab targeting the variant and said it could be ready by the end of March. CEO Albert Bourla also related that treatments such as Pfizer's oral antiviral pill, Paxlovid, will help prevent hospitalizations and control Covid-19 during the winter. As more and more shots are needed, some are even starting to talk about a fourth vaccine dose. Bourla noted that a jab could come "faster" than expected after previously projecting that a fourth shot would be needed 12 months after the third. He also anticipates new variants to emerge in the future and the company will continue monitoring to see if vaccine adjustments are needed.

— Pennsylvania Supreme Court ends school mask mandate. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Friday affirmed a Commonwealth Court decision that said Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam did not have the authority to issue a mask mandate for everyone indoors at schools and childcare centers. It means, effective immediately, school mask mandates are no longer mandatory, although many schools have a local rule that students who wish to wear a mask may still do so. The suit was brought by Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Republican who is running for governor. It was filed personally, as a parent, along with other parents, and not as part of a Senate action.


POLITICS & ELECTIONS


— Cordoza declared winner in Virginia House recount, confirming 52-48 Republican majority. On Dec. 8, a three-judge circuit court panel ruled Aijalon Cordoza (R) the winner of the election in Virginia House of Delegates District 91. The decision confirmed that Republicans won a 52-48 majority in the chamber. Officials in District 85, the only other district where a candidate requested a recount, confirmed on Dec. 3 that Karen Greenhalgh’s (R) defeated Alex Askew (D).

— Maryland General Assembly overrides governor’s veto of new congressional district map. On Dec. 9, Maryland enacted its new congressional district map after both chambers of the Democratic-controlled General Assembly voted to override Gov. Larry Hogan's (R) veto of the plan. The House of Delegates voted 96-41 to override the veto, while the Senate voted 32-14 to do the same. According to David Collins of WBAL-TV, "The map allows Democrats to hold seven of the state's eight congressional seats and the First District on the Eastern Shore, held by Republican Rep. Andy Harris, becomes more competitive."


CONGRESS  


— Manchin will meet with Senate moderates on Tuesday re: voting rights measure. Centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet Tuesday with a group of moderate Democrats on voting rights. Advocates want to see if Manchin would be open to a “carve-out” to the Senate’s filibuster rule for voting rights legislation.


OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE     


— Russia demands NATO retract pledge to admit Ukraine and Georgia. Moscow issues first detailed list of proposals after U.S. offers European security talks with transatlantic alliance. Russia has demanded NATO withdraw a 2008 pledge to admit Ukraine and Georgia as part of future security talks that Washington hopes will deter Moscow from invading its southern neighbor. The Russian foreign ministry on Friday published a list of proposed agreements that offer the most detailed insight so far into the “red lines” Vladimir Putin wants to form the basis of a new European security order. President Joe Biden agreed to discuss Putin’s grievances with the transatlantic military alliance in the company of a group of NATO members following a video call between the two leaders on Tuesday. The U.S. has warned allies that Putin has massed as many as 175,000 troops on Ukraine’s northern, eastern, and southern border in preparation for a possible invasion that officials say could be the bloodiest conflict in Europe since the second world war. Russia’s foreign ministry said Moscow’s relations with the west were at a “critical juncture,” blaming the U.S. and EU for holding “provocative” military drills near the Russian border and supplying Ukraine’s army with equipment. It also accused the west of “dragging Ukraine into NATO,” which it said could result in the deployment of missile systems and troops that could be used to attack Russia from Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, has made securing an action plan for NATO membership a cornerstone of his foreign policy.

     Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations warned Russia to de-escalate its activities around Ukraine or face “massive consequences.”  The ministers said they were united in their condemnation of Russia’s “military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine.”

— Nord Stream 2 pipeline ‘a source of leverage’ over Russia: Blinken. Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany is a source of leverage for the U.S. and its allies over Russian ambitions in Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Meet the Press Sunday (Dec. 12). Russia aims to see the pipeline certified by Germany so that gas can start flowing but “it’s very unlikely or hard to see that happening if Russia has renewed its aggression on Ukraine,” Blinken remarked. The pipeline is “a source of leverage on Russia because to the extent President Putin wants to see gas flowing through that pipeline,” he continued.

     The U.S. reportedly is pushing Germany to block the pipeline should Russia invade Ukraine. When asked about the topic last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said if Russia moves to invade Ukraine it would be a “very dramatic violation of the rules which would have very different consequences.”

— Supreme Court ruled that abortion clinics can challenge Texas’ ban on most abortions. The decision puts the state’s GOP-led law in jeopardy even though the justices allowed it to remain in effect for now. The court declined to issue a ruling in a related challenge to the Texas law and denied the Biden administration’s emergency request to block it immediately.


EVENTS AND REPORTS


Monday, Dec. 13

· Drones. The Woodrow Wilson Center's Science and Technology Innovation Program virtual discussion on "Sharing the Air: EU and U.S. Efforts to Integrate Commercial Drones into Civilian Airspace."
· Green energy. Washington Post Live virtual discussion on "Investing in Green Energy."
· Covid-19 origins. Hudson virtual book discussion on "Viral: The Search for the Origin of Covid-19."
· German elections. Atlantic Council virtual discussion on "#GermanyVotes - The New German Government's Priorities: What's Next in Berlin?"
· Earmarks. American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research virtual discussion on "Reforming and restructuring earmarks: What is the path forward?"
· Taiwan issues. McCain Institute virtual discussion with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
· Central American immigration. U.S. Chamber of Commerce (U.S.CC), the State Department, the Partnership for Central America, and the Office of the Vice President, virtual "Call to Action" discussion on "Private Sector Investment to Promote Economic Opportunity in Central America," focusing on the root causes of migration in Central America. Vice President Kamala Harris among those delivering remarks.
· Energy infrastructure and cyberattacks. Atlantic Council virtual discussion on "Securing the energy and critical infrastructure sectors from cyberattacks."
· Rep. Meadows indictment. House Select Committee to Investigate January 6th Committee markup of a “Recommending that the House of Representatives Cite Mark Randall Meadows for Criminal Contempt of Congress.”
· Biden administration and Korea. Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Joongang Ilbo newspaper hold the virtual 11th annual Joongang Ilbo-CSIS Forum on "The Biden Era and Korea's Global Strategy."

· Energy reports/events. CPC Blend loading program (January) | OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report.

· USDA reports. AMS. Export Inspections ERS: Cotton & Wool Outlook | Oil Crops Outlook | Feed Outlook | Wheat Outlook | Rice Outlook | Meat Price Spreads | Dairy Data


 

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