Morning Toast 26 Sept
The S&P 500 just had its most challenging week since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank back in March. The initial enthusiasm that boosted stocks due to AI-related developments is now being replaced by the sobering realisation that persistent high interest rates might be the new norm. This week, all eyes are on C-SPAN as investors anxiously await to see if the government can prevent a potentially harmful shutdown by the upcoming Saturday. Unfortunately, the outlook appears grim.
The imminent end of the writers' strike appears to be on the horizon as a tentative deal has been reached. The union representing Hollywood writers has seemingly secured significant concessions from major studios, potentially putting an end to the nearly five-month freeze on TV and film production.
For the deal to become official, it must be ratified by the approximately 11,500 members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). However, the likelihood of ratification seems high, as WGA leadership has asserted that they obtained substantial concessions from the studios. The negotiating committee of the union has described the deal as "exceptional" and noted that it includes "meaningful gains and protections for writers."
While the exact terms of the agreement are not yet known, details are expected to emerge early this week, as reported by the Hollywood Reporter.
The strike began in May when writers accused studios of embracing a new streaming-focused business model that made it difficult for them to earn a middle-class income. They also sought protection against the increasing use of artificial intelligence in content generation, which they perceived as a threat to their profession.
In response, studios cited their own challenges stemming from industry changes, such as the decline of profitable cable TV channels. Despite initial resistance, facing an estimated loss of $1.6 billion in global ticket sales due to postponed movie releases, the studios eventually acceded to most of the writers' demands, as reported by the New York Times.
While late-night and daytime talk shows may return soon, scripted TV production will remain paused due to an ongoing strike by tens of thousands of actors and over 100,000 other Hollywood employees. However, the positive development in the writers' negotiations could potentially encourage actors and studios to resume negotiations.
Lego has abandoned its plan to create bricks from recycled plastic bottles, citing increased energy usage as a significant hurdle. The Danish toymaker initially proposed the idea of transforming plastic bottles into Lego bricks two years ago, estimating that a one-litre bottle could produce around 10 bricks.
However, the shift to using recycled materials would necessitate substantial, carbon-intensive changes to Lego's current brick manufacturing process, which relies on oil-based plastics. Additionally, the test bricks produced from recycled bottles did not meet the company's quality standards.
Lego has been exploring various eco-friendly materials, such as corn and wheat, to create bricks but has faced challenges in ensuring that the pieces are both easy to assemble and durable enough to withstand generations of play.
While the company has successfully used sugar cane to produce bioplastics for softer Lego elements like trees and bushes, it remains committed to experimenting with different materials. Lego maintains its goal of producing sustainable bricks by 2032.
Tajikistan, a nation abundant in hydropower resources, is aiming to manufacture one million metric tons of green hydrogen by 2040. This hydrogen will be utilized domestically and exported to neighbouring Central Asian countries, as revealed by the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Daler Juma, during his visit to Japan for an energy transition event in Tokyo.
Juma outlined Tajikistan's ambitious plans, including the goal of achieving 10 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030. He explained that the country is presently heavily reliant on oil product imports and is actively developing a roadmap to produce green hydrogen.
Tajikistan primarily generates its electricity from hydropower, accounting for almost all its power needs, while it imports the majority of its oil products from Russia. Despite its substantial hydropower potential, which is estimated at around 4% utilization according to the International Energy Agency, Tajikistan seeks to harness this resource for green hydrogen production.
The country's immediate target is to produce 500,000 tons of green hydrogen by 2030, with a subsequent doubling of this output by 2040. Daler Juma attributes this expansion to the availability of competitively priced electric power. Furthermore, around 75% of this hydrogen production is expected to be earmarked for export to Central Asian nations currently reliant on fossil fuels.
Quote Of The Day
“The sustainability revolution will, hopefully, be the third major social and economic turning point in human history, following the Neolithic Revolution – moving from hunter-gathering to farming – and the Industrial Revolution.” - Prince Charles
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