A “Supercharged” Interstate Highway System

  • Ray Blanco on “one of the biggest hurdles to EV adoption”
  • A project similar to Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System
  • Three stocks to watch as charging stations replace gas stations
  • Did Dallas Fed president (and former “vampire squid” employee)…
  • … short the stock market in 2020?
  • Readers on “bank-account gremlins”… IRS manpower… Government ironies… And more!

“You have to match the convenience of the gasoline car in order for people to buy an electric car,” Elon Musk said in 2014.

Our tech authority Ray Blanco concurs. One of the biggest hurdles to electric vehicle (EV) adoption,” he says, “is charging infrastructure.

“The allure of plugging in at home and waking up each morning to a fully fueled vehicle might work for 90% of the people 90% of the time, but it’s the less common scenario that keeps people from pulling the trigger.

“What if you need to take a trip a state or two over? The solution is what I’m calling ‘Project I.C.S.’ — that is, Project Interstate Charging System.

“Everyone from automakers to the feds is devoting substantial resources to Project I.C.S. over the next several years,” says Ray.

“The new $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill includes $7.5 billion in EV charging build-outs, and EV makers will be spending billions more to make it happen.

“According to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, we’re already seeing cost parity between compact EVs and compact internal-combustion cars in Europe. And right now, there are more than 500 EV models globally.

“The growth is happening rapidly,” he continues. “Around 10% of new vehicles sold in the U.S. and Europe by 2025 will be electric. By 2030, it’ll be nearly one in three!

“One problem with the current EV charging infrastructure is that it’s incredibly concentrated,” Ray notes. “According to data compiled by EVAdoption.com, Tesla’s proprietary connector is found at nearly 40% of fast chargers in the U.S. today.

“As a pure-play EV company, Tesla essentially staked the company in the early days on building a robust nationwide fast-charging network,” he says.

“Other carmakers, who are pushing their poker chips into the middle of the EV table only now, haven’t been as eager to spend the money on building out charging infrastructure. But that’s changing.

“One way they can catch-up is by joining forces on the charging front and doubling down on investment in standardized chargers along major highway systems,” Ray says. “That’s precisely what’s happening.

“That means you won’t see Ford, GM or Toyota chargers alongside the highway.

“Instead, you’ll see chargers manufactured, owned and operated by a handful of new charging infrastructure companies,” Ray says. (Emphasis ours.)

“Think of them like the gas station brands that dot the highways today.

“Much like with gas stations, this isn’t a winner-take-all market. I expect that several electric charging networks will be winners from the electrification of the nation’s highway network.”

Ray concludes: “Three EV charging stocks that have the biggest upside potential in my estimation: ChargePoint Holdings (CHPT), Blink Charging Co. (BLNK) and EVgo Inc. (EVGO).”

Want more details about all three? Check out the latest issue of Technology Profits Confidential, which you can access here for free.

All the major U.S. stock indexes are up over 1% today, with the Dow leading the charge: up 1.25% to 34,340. Alongside the Big Board, the S&P 500 is up 1.14% to 4,400 while the tech-loving Nasdaq is up 1% to 14,895.

Commodities? A barrel of West Texas Intermediate is up $1.32 to $71.82, gold is slightly under $1,800 per ounce and silver is a nickel away from $23. As for crypto, Bitcoin is up almost 3% at the time of writing to $43,283.

We’ll see what happens tomorrow — taper talk? — after the FOMC meeting this afternoon. Followed by Powell’s presser…

[Update] We’ve been chronicling the stock market shenanigans of two Fed presidents and an “ethics review” that’s backfired on Fed Chairman Powell…

Now there’s something on Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan’s financial disclosure form that mainstream financial outlets have overlooked. Leave it to Pam and Russ Martens at Wall Street On Parade to start putting the pieces together.

“A line item show[s] that Kaplan made ‘multiple’ trades of more than $1 million in S&P 500 futures,” they observe. “This is a stunning revelation…

“Using S&P 500 futures gave Kaplan access to making directional bets on where the market would go after the stock market closed, which is typically when the Fed makes market-moving announcements,” the Martenses say.

“A speculator who comes by market-moving information after the stock market has closed can trade on that information using the E-mini S&P 500 futures contract around the clock.” And can go “long” or “short” depending on the direction the trader believes the market will take.

The Martenses continue: “The financial disclosure form provided by Kaplan is for the calendar year 2020. That was an unprecedented year in terms of market volatility and the ability to make huge gains (or losses) in the stock market from short-term trading.

“It was a nimble S&P 500 day trader’s dream market,” they say.

“At numerous times during 2020, the Fed was making dramatic market-moving announcements of interest rate cuts and the creation of a panoply of emergency lending facilities.”

Here’s the kicker: “Throughout 2020, Kaplan was a voting member of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and had access to non-public information.”

So last Friday, the Martenses emailed two members of the communications team at the Dallas Fed. “Can you let me know if Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan had any short positions in any stocks or other equity positions in 2020?”

They recall: “We received a response via email from one member of the communications team (with a CC to the other member of the team), indicating that they were declining to answer my question.”

Team Martens, however, continued their full-court press: “Are you saying that the President of the Dallas Fed will not explicitly state that he was not shorting stocks as the market melted down last year?

“I would think he would welcome the opportunity to eliminate any speculation about that, given his more than two decades at Goldman Sachs, which has a notorious history with shorting the market during a crisis.” Sick burn.


The Martenses’ takeaway? “The DOJ must subpoena the trading records from Kaplan’s brokerage firms and examine how his trades compare with the timing of announcements from the Fed.”

We’ll see…

Moving on to feedback about Tuesday’s issue of The 5, a reader snarks about the Treasury Department’s proposal to operate like “$600-bank-account gremlins.”

He protests: “The government would get more accomplished by starting with their own leaky buckets,” Hear! Hear!

On the other hand, a reader writes…

“I retired from the IRS a few years ago, and my wife is still working as an agent. I knew people were working under the table, but I didn’t realize the number was so high.

“Also, the IRS doesn’t have the manpower; they can only audit a small percentage of returns. They lack the manpower and a decent computer system. New money into the IRS is very much needed.”

The 5: Well

If you’ve been a reader for any length of time, you know our general disdain for the IRS (present company excluded, of course). But to your point, alongside enlisting bankers to snoop on bank accounts as small as $600…

[Which, we have to mention, seems like a fishy number since the federal government was doling out supplemental unemployment benefits to the tune of… $600 per week. Huh?]

… the Treasury Department also proposed swelling the IRS’ budget by 40% and doubling its workforce to about 161,000.

And Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — with IRS sidekick Commissioner Charles Rettig — are like dogs with a bone.

When the House budget bill excluded expansive reporting requirements, Yellen and Rettig sent a letter last week to the House Ways and Means Committee, emphasizing “the importance of adopting an increase in funding for the IRS and new bank reporting requirements designed to help the agency target wealthy Americans dodging their tax obligations,” says The Washington Post.

In fact: “The IRS’ funding and powers are a central component of the $3.5 trillion economic package that Democrats are trying to advance through Congress.”

So our IRS retiree might see a doubled IRS workforce in the very near future. About that rickety computer system? No telling.

I read your article about the extent of the unemployed population — particularly men — and I have a question…

“Is it possible to determine how many employment-age Americans are receiving pensions? We are in a transition phase of our economy where a lot of people are living off pensions, even as private industry pensions are disappearing.

“Consider the following…

  • “One area of employment that exploded in this country since WWII was government work, at all levels. Government employees are the largest population of pension earners in America. How many government retirees are there who retired earlier than 65?
  • “Some union workers from the heyday of manufacturing are retiring early and chilling. Many of them are over 65 now, but there may be a notable population that is still working age.

“This might explain some of the ‘Where do they get their money?’ It can’t all be the unreported cash economy.

“I would be interested to see if you can put some numbers to these pension populations.”

The 5: For our purposes Tuesday, we highlighted just one way working-age men are surviving without a “real” IRS-reporting job. According to Yahoo Finance’s Andy Serwer, there are six others.

And you’re onto something, reader. Mr. Serwer left room for men who get income from “early retirement, pensions, disability and lawsuits.”

Serwer says: “Hard data is tough to come by, but it is the case that millions of men under 64 are at least partly living off of pensions… This would include everything from C-suite executives to union members. And don’t forget municipal workers, who make up almost 14% of the U.S. workforce.

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are some 6,000 public-sector retirement systems in the U.S.,” he adds, with “11.2 million retirees. [These] plans distribute $323 billion in benefits annually, and again, some to men who are younger than 64. In fact in almost two-thirds of these plans, if you started working at 25, you max out at 57,” Serwer notes.

So while hard-and-fast numbers are hard to come by, certainly pensioners are among the 30 million working-age men who operate outside a traditional job.

“It seems you missed the irony of The 5 yesterday,” a reader opines. “You began by pointing out all the workers who must be working under the table, getting paid in cash. And how Big Brother wants to crack down on these outlaws.

“Next, you talked about the booming cannabis industry, which is not federally legal, therefore, cannot accept credit cards or even open bank accounts.

“Here in Oregon, when you buy at a legal dispensary, they only take cash. But the state taxes you at 20%.”

Boggles the mind, right? Thanks for pointing out the absurdity…

Come on back tomorrow, and take care.

Best regards,

Emily Clancy
The 5 Min. Forecast

Emily Clancy

Emily Clancy

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