Elon Musk’s Romance With Bitcoin Was Brief

Illustration for article titled Elon Musk's Romance With Bitcoin Was Brief

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You can’t buy a Tesla with bitcoin anymore, Volvo is still thinking about going public, and Redditors were right about Hertz. All that and more in The Morning Shift for May 13, 2021.

1st Gear: So Much For Buying Teslas With Bitcoin

Tesla said in March that you could buy a Tesla with bitcoin, the kind of dumb marketing gimmick that we’ve grown to expect with Tesla and CEO Elon Musk. Except, on Wednesday, Musk said that Tesla would now not be accepting bitcoin, because Musk says he is worried about the environment and bitcoin uses a lot of energy.

This comes a day after Musk polled his Twitter followers on whether or not Tesla should accept a different cryptocurrency — dogecoin — for payment. Over 78 percent said yes.

If you were wondering if this is all a joke, I can assure you that it is, albeit a joke with a lot of real money at stake. Tesla, for example, still has over $1 billion invested in bitcoin.

Via The Wall Street Journal:

Bitcoin mining consumes about 148 terawatt-hours of energy annually, the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance estimates. That is more than Sweden uses in a year. However, the center also says that the energy bitcoin uses is equal to about 1½ years’ worth of wasted energy in the U.S. just from devices left plugged into outlets.

Some bitcoin proponents dispute that bitcoin wastes as much energy as its critics say, and several, in the minutes after Mr. Musk’s tweet, took issue with his statement.

Mr. Musk has repeatedly expressed support for the cryptocurrency and, at one point, had a bitcoin reference in his Twitter biography.

He is also closely associated with the cryptocurrency dogecoin, created in 2013 as a joke. In a sketch on “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend, cast members pressed Mr. Musk to explain what dogecoin was. Mr. Musk, who was hosting the show, eventually said, “Yeah, it’s a hustle.” The price of the cryptocurrency has since fallen.

2nd Gear: Tesla Also Wants In On Another Regulatory Credit Market

Tesla already makes hundreds of millions of dollars selling regulatory credits to other automakers who need to comply with regulations here and overseas. Reuters reports that Tesla now also wants to get in on the federal market for renewable credits. The Renewable Fuel Standard market is now mostly ethanol makers.

From Reuters:

Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) is seeking to enter the multi-billion dollar U.S. renewable credit market, hoping to profit from the Biden administration’s march toward new zero-emission goals, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The electric car maker is one of at least eight companies with a pending application at the Environmental Protection Agency tied to power generation and renewable credits, the sources said. The EPA produces a list of pending applications with some details, but not companies’ names.

Tesla’s entry could potentially reshape the renewable credit market, established in the mid-2000s to boost investment in the U.S. biofuel industry. The market generated some 18 billion credits in 2020 and is currently dominated by ethanol producers. Tesla’s application would likely be tied to the production of electricity associated with biogas.

The Biden administration is expected to review the EPA applications and lay out how electric vehicles could qualify for tradable credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this summer, the two sources said.

It is officially too hard for me to keep all of these regulatory credit markets straight. Please just charge a carbon tax already and be done with it.

3rd Gear: Meanwhile, Another Fatal Tesla Crash Is Being Investigated By The Feds

This is not the fatal crash in Texas, but one last week in California, in which a Tesla hit a tractor-trailer, killing the Tesla’s driver and injuring the truck’s driver and another motorist.

From Reuters:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) said on Wednesday it is opening a safety probe into a fatal May 5 Tesla (TSLA.O) crash in California amid growing concerns about the automaker’s driver assistance systems.


The highway patrol report did not say whether the Tesla was operating on Autopilot, its semi-autonomous driving system, when the crash occurred. The Mack truck had crashed and overturned five minutes earlier, blocking two lanes of the highway, the report said.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

4th Gear: Volvo Might Go Public

We heard some rumblings of this in March, though now it seems to be a little bit further down the line, as Volvo explicitly said Wednesday it was considering the move, per The Wall Street Journal.

The company also extended Chief Executive Håkan Samuelsson’s contract to the end of 2022. Mr. Samuelsson has long favored a listing, which would cap a decadelong turnaround of the car maker known for its understated Scandinavian design and reputation for safety.

Proceeding with the listing in Stockholm would leave the company with a broader shareholder base and greater independence from its Chinese investors. Volvo didn’t say how big a stake it might float.

“A potential listing on the Nasdaq Stockholm stock exchange could create an opportunity for global investors to participate in our journey to become a leader in the fast-growing premium and intelligent electric vehicle segment,” Mr. Samuelsson said.

A stock listing for Volvo would be something like the opposite of when Tesla went public, since Volvo has a long and recent track record of success, whereas Tesla, well, didn’t. There aren’t two more opposite automakers, come to think of it.

5th Gear: The Reddit Mob Was Right About Hertz

You may remember when stock in Hertz, which went bankrupt, had a wild rise and fall last summer, in what was a premonition of GameStop things to come. Well, as Bloomberg reports, the mob was ultimately right.

The winning bid from several Wall Street giants to buy the company out of bankruptcy makes bondholders whole and, even more astonishingly, recovers about $8 a share for equity owners. It’s rare for shareholders to get anything in Chapter 11 cases, let alone ones involving businesses so badly hobbled by Covid-19 lockdowns.

And $8 stands out for another reason. Before day traders made GameStop Corp. the hottest stock on Earth early this year, Hertz was their plaything after its bankruptcy filing. They nailed the price, even if they don’t get new shares: every single one of them paid no more than $6.25 for a stock that even Hertz said at the time might be “worthless.”

Add it all together and it’s one of the most remarkable rebounds in recent memory, which almost perfectly mirrored the wild V-shaped recovery in the U.S. economy. The company, its creditors and equity holders can thank a shockingly fast, stimulus-spurred recovery in travel demand and consumer sentiment. Even two months ago, shareholders were going to be wiped out by its bankruptcy plan, and a few days ago they were in line to get about $2.25.

It’s always your dumbest friends who win biggest at the casino.

Reverse: Archie Scott Brown Is Born

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