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Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

7 months ago

What is this Fed interest rate everybody is talking about that makes or breaks the stock market?

More on Economics & Investing

Cody Collins

Cody Collins

13 days ago

The direction of the economy is as follows.

What quarterly bank earnings reveal

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

Big banks know the economy best. Unless we’re talking about a housing crisis in 2007…

Banks are crucial to the U.S. economy. The Fed, communities, and investments exchange money.

An economy depends on money flow. Banks' views on the economy can affect their decision-making.

Most large banks released quarterly earnings and forward guidance last week. Others were pessimistic about the future.

What Makes Banks Confident

Bank of America's profit decreased 30% year-over-year, but they're optimistic about the economy. Comparatively, they're bullish.

Who banks serve affects what they see. Bank of America supports customers.

They think consumers' future is bright. They believe this for many reasons.

The average customer has decent credit, unless the system is flawed. Bank of America's new credit card and mortgage borrowers averaged 771. New-car loan and home equity borrower averages were 791 and 797.

2008's housing crisis affected people with scores below 620.

Bank of America and the economy benefit from a robust consumer. Major problems can be avoided if individuals maintain spending.

Reasons Other Banks Are Less Confident

Spending requires income. Many companies, mostly in the computer industry, have announced they will slow or freeze hiring. Layoffs are frequently an indication of poor times ahead.

BOA is positive, but investment banks are bearish.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, outlined various difficulties our economy could confront.

But geopolitical tension, high inflation, waning consumer confidence, the uncertainty about how high rates have to go and the never-before-seen quantitative tightening and their effects on global liquidity, combined with the war in Ukraine and its harmful effect on global energy and food prices are very likely to have negative consequences on the global economy sometime down the road.

That's more headwinds than tailwinds.

JPMorgan, which helps with mergers and IPOs, is less enthusiastic due to these concerns. Incoming headwinds signal drying liquidity, they say. Less business will be done.

Final Reflections

I don't think we're done. Yes, stocks are up 10% from a month ago. It's a long way from old highs.

I don't think the stock market is a strong economic indicator.

Many executives foresee a 2023 recession. According to the traditional definition, we may be in a recession when Q2 GDP statistics are released next week.

Regardless of criteria, I predict the economy will have a terrible year.

Weekly layoffs are announced. Inflation persists. Will prices return to 2020 levels if inflation cools? Perhaps. Still expensive energy. Ukraine's war has global repercussions.

I predict BOA's next quarter earnings won't be as bullish about the consumer's strength.

Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

7 months ago

What is headline inflation?

Headline inflation is the raw Consumer price index (CPI) reported monthly by the Bureau of labour statistics (BLS). CPI measures inflation by calculating the cost of a fixed basket of goods. The CPI uses a base year to index the current year's prices.


Explaining Inflation

As it includes all aspects of an economy that experience inflation, headline inflation is not adjusted to remove volatile figures. Headline inflation is often linked to cost-of-living changes, which is useful for consumers.

The headline figure doesn't account for seasonality or volatile food and energy prices, which are removed from the core CPI. Headline inflation is usually annualized, so a monthly headline figure of 4% inflation would equal 4% inflation for the year if repeated for 12 months. Top-line inflation is compared year-over-year.

Inflation's downsides

Inflation erodes future dollar values, can stifle economic growth, and can raise interest rates. Core inflation is often considered a better metric than headline inflation. Investors and economists use headline and core results to set growth forecasts and monetary policy.

Core Inflation

Core inflation removes volatile CPI components that can distort the headline number. Food and energy costs are commonly removed. Environmental shifts that affect crop growth can affect food prices outside of the economy. Political dissent can affect energy costs, such as oil production.

From 1957 to 2018, the U.S. averaged 3.64 percent core inflation. In June 1980, the rate reached 13.60%. May 1957 had 0% inflation. The Fed's core inflation target for 2022 is 3%.
 

Central bank:

A central bank has privileged control over a nation's or group's money and credit. Modern central banks are responsible for monetary policy and bank regulation. Central banks are anti-competitive and non-market-based. Many central banks are not government agencies and are therefore considered politically independent. Even if a central bank isn't government-owned, its privileges are protected by law. A central bank's legal monopoly status gives it the right to issue banknotes and cash. Private commercial banks can only issue demand deposits.

What are living costs?

The cost of living is the amount needed to cover housing, food, taxes, and healthcare in a certain place and time. Cost of living is used to compare the cost of living between cities and is tied to wages. If expenses are higher in a city like New York, salaries must be higher so people can live there.

What's U.S. bureau of labor statistics?

BLS collects and distributes economic and labor market data about the U.S. Its reports include the CPI and PPI, both important inflation measures.

https://www.bls.gov/cpi/

Liam Vaughan

Liam Vaughan

8 months ago

Investors can bet big on almost anything on a new prediction market.

Kalshi allows five-figure bets on the Grammys, the next Covid wave, and future SEC commissioners. Worst-case scenario

On Election Day 2020, two young entrepreneurs received a call from the CFTC chairman. Luana Lopes Lara and Tarek Mansour spent 18 months trying to start a new type of financial exchange. Instead of betting on stock prices or commodity futures, people could trade instruments tied to real-world events, such as legislation, the weather, or the Oscar winner.

Heath Tarbert, a Trump appointee, shouted "Congratulations." "You're competing with 1840s-era markets. I'm sure you'll become a powerhouse too."

Companies had tried to introduce similar event markets in the US for years, but Tarbert's agency, the CFTC, said no, arguing they were gambling and prone to cheating. Now the agency has reversed course, approving two 24-year-olds who will have first-mover advantage in what could become a huge new asset class. Kalshi Inc. raised $30 million from venture capitalists within weeks of Tarbert's call, his representative says. Mansour, 26, believes this will be bigger than crypto.

Anyone who's read The Wisdom of Crowds knows prediction markets' potential. Well-designed markets can help draw out knowledge from disparate groups, and research shows that when money is at stake, people make better predictions. Lopes Lara calls it a "bullshit tax." That's why Google, Microsoft, and even the US Department of Defense use prediction markets internally to guide decisions, and why university-linked political betting sites like PredictIt sometimes outperform polls.

Regulators feared Wall Street-scale trading would encourage investors to manipulate reality. If the stakes are high enough, traders could pressure congressional staffers to stall a bill or bet on whether Kanye West's new album will drop this week. When Lopes Lara and Mansour pitched the CFTC, senior regulators raised these issues. Politically appointed commissioners overruled their concerns, and one later joined Kalshi's board.

Will Kanye’s new album come out next week? Yes or no?

Kalshi's victory was due more to lobbying and legal wrangling than to Silicon Valley-style innovation. Lopes Lara and Mansour didn't invent anything; they changed a well-established concept's governance. The result could usher in a new era of market-based enlightenment or push Wall Street's destructive tendencies into the real world.

If Kalshi's founders lacked experience to bolster their CFTC application, they had comical youth success. Lopes Lara studied ballet at the Brazilian Bolshoi before coming to the US. Mansour won France's math Olympiad. They bonded over their work ethic in an MIT computer science class.

Lopes Lara had the idea for Kalshi while interning at a New York hedge fund. When the traders around her weren't working, she noticed they were betting on the news: Would Apple hit a trillion dollars? Kylie Jenner? "It was anything," she says.

Are mortgage rates going up? Yes or no?

Mansour saw the business potential when Lopes Lara suggested it. He interned at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., helping investors prepare for the UK leaving the EU. Goldman sold clients complex stock-and-derivative combinations. As he discussed it with Lopes Lara, they agreed that investors should hedge their risk by betting on Brexit itself rather than an imperfect proxy.

Lopes Lara and Mansour hypothesized how a marketplace might work. They settled on a "event contract," a binary-outcome instrument like "Will inflation hit 5% by the end of the month?" The contract would settle at $1 (if the event happened) or zero (if it didn't), but its price would fluctuate based on market sentiment. After a good debate, a politician's election odds may rise from 50 to 55. Kalshi would charge a commission on every trade and sell data to traders, political campaigns, businesses, and others.

In October 2018, five months after graduation, the pair flew to California to compete in a hackathon for wannabe tech founders organized by the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. They built a website in a day and a night and presented it to entrepreneurs the next day. Their prototype barely worked, but they won a three-month mentorship program and $150,000. Michael Seibel, managing director of Y Combinator, said of their idea, "I had to take a chance!"

Will there be another moon landing by 2025?

Seibel's skepticism was rooted in America's historical wariness of gambling. Roulette, poker, and other online casino games are largely illegal, and sports betting was only legal in a few states until May 2018. Kalshi as a risk-hedging platform rather than a bookmaker seemed like a good idea, but convincing the CFTC wouldn't be easy. In 2012, the CFTC said trading on politics had no "economic purpose" and was "contrary to the public interest."

Lopes Lara and Mansour cold-called 60 Googled lawyers during their time at Y Combinator. Everyone advised quitting. Mansour recalls the pain. Jeff Bandman, a former CFTC official, helped them navigate the agency and its characters.

When they weren’t busy trying to recruit lawyers, Lopes Lara and Mansour were meeting early-stage investors. Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital Operations LLC backed Airbnb, DoorDash, and Uber Technologies. Lin told the founders their idea could capitalize on retail trading and challenge how the financial world manages risk. "Come back with regulatory approval," he said.

In the US, even small bets on most events were once illegal. Under the Commodity Exchange Act, the CFTC can stop exchanges from listing contracts relating to "terrorism, assassination, war" and "gaming" if they are "contrary to the public interest," which was often the case.

Will subway ridership return to normal? Yes or no?

In 1988, as academic interest in the field grew, the agency allowed the University of Iowa to set up a prediction market for research purposes, as long as it didn't make a profit or advertise and limited bets to $500. PredictIt, the biggest and best-known political betting platform in the US, also got an exemption thanks to an association with Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Today, it's a sprawling marketplace with its own subculture and lingo. PredictIt users call it "Rules Cuck Panther" when they lose on a technicality. Major news outlets cite PredictIt's odds on Discord and the Star Spangled Gamblers podcast.

CFTC limits PredictIt bets to $850. To keep traders happy, PredictIt will often run multiple variations of the same question, listing separate contracts for two dozen Democratic primary candidates, for example. A trader could have more than $10,000 riding on a single outcome. Some of the site's traders are current or former campaign staffers who can answer questions like "How many tweets will Donald Trump post from Nov. 20 to 27?" and "When will Anthony Scaramucci's role as White House communications director end?"

According to PredictIt co-founder John Phillips, politicians help explain the site's accuracy. "Prediction markets work well and are accurate because they attract people with superior information," he said in a 2016 podcast. “In the financial stock market, it’s called inside information.”

Will Build Back Better pass? Yes or no?

Trading on nonpublic information is illegal outside of academia, which presented a dilemma for Lopes Lara and Mansour. Kalshi's forecasts needed to be accurate. Kalshi must eliminate insider trading as a regulated entity. Lopes Lara and Mansour wanted to build a high-stakes PredictIt without the anarchy or blurred legal lines—a "New York Stock Exchange for Events." First, they had to convince regulators event trading was safe.

When Lopes Lara and Mansour approached the CFTC in the spring of 2019, some officials in the Division of Market Oversight were skeptical, according to interviews with people involved in the process. For all Kalshi's talk of revolutionizing finance, this was just a turbocharged version of something that had been rejected before.

The DMO couldn't see the big picture. The staff review was supposed to ensure Kalshi could complete a checklist, "23 Core Principles of a Designated Contract Market," which included keeping good records and having enough money. The five commissioners decide. With Trump as president, three of them were ideologically pro-market.

Lopes Lara, Mansour, and their lawyer Bandman, an ex-CFTC official, answered the DMO's questions while lobbying the commissioners on Zoom about the potential of event markets to mitigate risks and make better decisions. Before each meeting, they would write a script and memorize it word for word.

Will student debt be forgiven? Yes or no?

Several prediction markets that hadn't sought regulatory approval bolstered Kalshi's case. Polymarket let customers bet hundreds of thousands of dollars anonymously using cryptocurrencies, making it hard to track. Augur, which facilitates private wagers between parties using blockchain, couldn't regulate bets and hadn't stopped users from betting on assassinations. Kalshi, by comparison, argued it was doing everything right. (The CFTC fined Polymarket $1.4 million for operating an unlicensed exchange in January 2022. Polymarket says it's now compliant and excited to pioneer smart contract-based financial solutions with regulators.

Kalshi was approved unanimously despite some DMO members' concerns about event contracts' riskiness. "Once they check all the boxes, they're in," says a CFTC insider.

Three months after CFTC approval, Kalshi announced funding from Sequoia, Charles Schwab, and Henry Kravis. Sequoia's Lin, who joined the board, said Tarek, Luana, and team created a new way to invest and engage with the world.

The CFTC hadn't asked what markets the exchange planned to run since. After approval, Lopes Lara and Mansour had the momentum. Kalshi's March list of 30 proposed contracts caused chaos at the DMO. The division handles exchanges that create two or three new markets a year. Kalshi’s business model called for new ones practically every day.

Uncontroversial proposals included weather and GDP questions. Others, on the initial list and later, were concerning. DMO officials feared Covid-19 contracts amounted to gambling on human suffering, which is why war and terrorism markets are banned. (Similar logic doomed ex-admiral John Poindexter's Policy Analysis Market, a Bush-era plan to uncover intelligence by having security analysts bet on Middle East events.) Regulators didn't see how predicting the Grammy winners was different from betting on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Who, other than John Legend, would need to hedge the best R&B album winner?

Event contracts raised new questions for the DMO's product review team. Regulators could block gaming contracts that weren't in the public interest under the Commodity Exchange Act, but no one had defined gaming. It was unclear whether the CFTC had a right or an obligation to consider whether a contract was in the public interest. How was it to determine public interest? Another person familiar with the CFTC review says, "It was a mess." The agency didn't comment.

CFTC staff feared some event contracts could be cheated. Kalshi wanted to run a bee-endangerment market. The DMO pushed back, saying it saw two problems symptomatic of the asset class: traders could press government officials for information, and officials could delay adding the insects to the list to cash in.

The idea that traders might manipulate prediction markets wasn't paranoid. In 2013, academics David Rothschild and Rajiv Sethi found that an unidentified party lost $7 million buying Mitt Romney contracts on Intrade, a now-defunct, unlicensed Irish platform, in the runup to the 2012 election. The authors speculated that the trader, whom they dubbed the “Romney Whale,” may have been looking to boost morale and keep donations coming in.

Kalshi said manipulation and insider trading are risks for any market. It built a surveillance system and said it would hire a team to monitor it. "People trade on events all the time—they just use options and other instruments. This brings everything into the open, Mansour says. Kalshi didn't include election contracts, a red line for CFTC Democrats.

Lopes Lara and Mansour were ready to launch kalshi.com that summer, but the DMO blocked them. Product reviewers were frustrated by spending half their time on an exchange that represented a tiny portion of the derivatives market. Lopes Lara and Mansour pressed politically appointed commissioners during the impasse.

Tarbert, the chairman, had moved on, but Kalshi found a new supporter in Republican Brian Quintenz, a crypto-loving former hedge fund manager. He was unmoved by the DMO's concerns, arguing that speculation on Kalshi's proposed events was desirable and the agency had no legal standing to prevent it. He supported a failed bid to allow NFL futures earlier this year. Others on the commission were cautious but supportive. Given the law's ambiguity, they worried they'd be on shaky ground if Kalshi sued if they blocked a contract. Without a permanent chairman, the agency lacked leadership.

To block a contract, DMO staff needed a majority of commissioners' support, which they didn't have in all but a few cases. "We didn't have the votes," a reviewer says, paraphrasing Hamilton. By the second half of 2021, new contract requests were arriving almost daily at the DMO, and the demoralized and overrun division eventually accepted defeat and stopped fighting back. By the end of the year, three senior DMO officials had left the agency, making it easier for Kalshi to list its contracts unimpeded.

Today, Kalshi is growing. 32 employees work in a SoHo office with big windows and exposed brick. Quintenz, who left the CFTC 10 months after Kalshi was approved, is on its board. He joined because he was interested in the market's hedging and risk management opportunities.

Mid-May, the company's website had 75 markets, such as "Will Q4 GDP be negative?" Will NASA land on the moon by 2025? The exchange recently reached 2 million weekly contracts, a jump from where it started but still a small number compared to other futures exchanges. Early adopters are PredictIt and Polymarket fans. Bets on the site are currently capped at $25,000, but Kalshi hopes to increase that to $100,000 and beyond.

With the regulatory drawbridge down, Lopes Lara and Mansour must move quickly. Chicago's CME Group Inc. plans to offer index-linked event contracts. Kalshi will release a smartphone app to attract customers. After that, it hopes to partner with a big brokerage. Sequoia is a major investor in Robinhood Markets Inc. Robinhood users could have access to Kalshi so that after buying GameStop Corp. shares, they'd be prompted to bet on the Oscars or the next Fed commissioner.

Some, like Illinois Democrat Sean Casten, accuse Robinhood and its competitors of gamifying trading to encourage addiction, but Kalshi doesn't seem worried. Mansour says Kalshi's customers can't bet more than they've deposited, making debt difficult. Eventually, he may introduce leveraged bets.

Tension over event contracts recalls another CFTC episode. Brooksley Born proposed regulating the financial derivatives market in 1994. Alan Greenspan and others in the government opposed her, saying it would stifle innovation and push capital overseas. Unrestrained, derivatives grew into a trillion-dollar industry until 2008, when they sparked the financial crisis.

Today, with a midterm election looming, it seems reasonable to ask whether Kalshi plans to get involved. Elections have historically been the biggest draw in prediction markets, with 125 million shares traded on PredictIt for 2020. “We can’t discuss specifics,” Mansour says. “All I can say is, you know, we’re always working on expanding the universe of things that people can trade on.”

Any election contracts would need CFTC approval, which may be difficult with three Democratic commissioners. A Republican president would change the equation.

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Michelle Teheux

Michelle Teheux

1 month ago

Get Real, All You Grateful Laid-Off LinkedIn Users

WTF is wrong with you people?

She looks so happy. She was probably just fired. Photo by Michael Dam on Unsplash

When I was laid off as editor of my town's daily newspaper, I went silent on social media. I knew it was coming and had been quietly removing personal items each day, but the pain was intense.

I posted a day later. I didn't bad-mouth GateHouse Media but expressed my sadness at leaving the newspaper industry, pride in my accomplishments, and hope for success in another industry.

Normal job-loss response.

What do you recognize as abnormal?

The bullshit I’ve been reading from laid-off folks on LinkedIn.

If you're there, you know. Many Twitter or Facebook/Meta employees recently lost their jobs.

Well, many of them did not “lose their job,” actually. They were “impacted by the layoffs” at their former employer. I keep seeing that phrase.

Why don’t they want to actually say it? Why the euphemism?

Many are excited about the opportunities ahead. The jobless deny being sad.

They're ecstatic! They have big plans.

Hope so. Sincerely! Being laid off stinks, especially if, like me, your skills are obsolete. It's worse if, like me, you're too old to start a new career. Ageism exists despite denials.

Nowadays, professionalism seems to demand psychotic levels of fake optimism.

Why? Life is unpredictable. That's indisputable. You shouldn't constantly complain or cry in public, but you also shouldn't pretend everything's great.

It makes you look psychotic, not positive. It's like saying at work:

“I was impacted by the death of my spouse of 20 years this week, and many of you have reached out to me, expressing your sympathy. However, I’m choosing to remember the amazing things we shared. I feel confident that there is another marriage out there for me, and after taking a quiet weekend trip to reset myself, I’ll be out there looking for the next great marital adventure! #staypositive #available #opentolove

Also:

“Now looking for our next #dreamhome after our entire neighborhood was demolished by a wildfire last night. We feel so lucky to have lived near so many amazing and inspirational neighbors, all of whom we will miss as we go on our next housing adventure. The best house for us is yet to come! If you have a great neighborhood you’d recommend, please feel free to reach out and touch base with us! #newhouse #newneighborhood #newlife

Admit it. That’s creepy.

The constant optimism makes me feel sick to my stomach.

Viscerally.

I hate fakes.

Imagine a fake wood grain desk. Wouldn't it be better if the designer accepted that it's plastic and went with that?

Real is better but not always nice. When something isn't nice, you don't have to go into detail, but you also shouldn't pretend it's great.

How to announce your job loss to the world.

Do not pretend to be happy, but don't cry and drink vodka all afternoon.

Say you loved your job, and that you're looking for new opportunities.

Yes, if you'll miss your coworkers. Otherwise, don't badmouth. No bridge-burning!

Please specify the job you want. You may want to pivot.

Alternatively, try this.

You could always flame out.

If you've pushed yourself too far into toxic positivity, you may be ready to burn it all down. If so, make it worthwhile by writing something like this:

Well, I was shitcanned by the losers at #Acme today. That bitch Linda in HR threw me under the bus just because she saw that one of my “friends” tagged me in some beach pics on social media after I called in sick with Covid. The good thing is I will no longer have to watch my ass around that #asspincher Ron in accounting, but I’m sad that I will no longer have a cushy job with high pay or access to the primo office supplies I’ve been sneaking home for the last five years. (Those gel pens were the best!) I am going to be taking some time off to enjoy my unemployment and hammer down shots of Jägermeister but in about five months I’ll be looking for anything easy with high pay and great benefits. Reach out if you can help! #officesupplies #unemploymentrocks #drinkinglikeagirlboss #acmesucks

It beats the fake positivity.

Marcus Lu

Marcus Lu

1 month ago

The Brand Structure of U.S. Electric Vehicle Production

Will Tesla be able to maintain its lead in the EV market for very long?

This is one of the most pressing issues in the American auto sector today. One positive aspect of Tesla is the company's devoted customer base and recognizable name recognition (similar to Apple). It also invests more in research and development per vehicle than its rivals and has a head start in EV production.

Conversely, established automakers like Volkswagen are actively plotting their strategy to surpass Tesla. As the current market leaders, they have decades of experience in the auto industry and are spending billions to catch up.

We've visualized data from the EPA's 2022 Automotive Trends Report to bring you up to speed on this developing story.

Info for the Model Year of 2021

The full production data used in this infographic is for the 2021 model year, but it comes from a report for 2022.

Combined EV and PHEV output is shown in the table below (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle).

It is important to note that Toyota and Stellantis, the two largest legacy automakers in this dataset, only produced PHEVs. Toyota's first electric vehicle, the bZ4X, won't hit the market until 2023.

Stellantis seems to be falling even further behind, despite having enormous unrealized potential in its Jeep and Ram brands. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said in a recent interview that the firm has budgeted $36 billion for electrification and software.

Legacy Brands with the Most Momentum

In the race to develop electric vehicles, some long-standing manufacturers have gotten the jump on their rivals.

Volkswagen, one of these storied manufacturers, has made a significant investment in electric vehicles (EVs) in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal. The company plans to roll out multiple EV models, including the ID.3 hatchback, ID.4 SUV, and ID. Buzz, with the goal of producing 22 million EVs by 2028. (an electric revival of the classic Microbus).

Even Ford is keeping up, having just announced an EV investment of $22 billion between 2021 and 2025. In November of 2022, the company manufactured their 150,000th Mustang Mach-E, and by the end of 2023, they hoped to have 270,000 of them in circulation.

Additionally, over 200,000 F-150 Lightnings have been reserved since Ford announced the truck. The Lightning is scheduled to have a production run of 15,000 in 2022, 55,000 in 2023, and 80,000 in 2024. Ford's main competitor in the electric pickup truck segment, Rivian, is on track to sell 25,000 vehicles by 2022.

Will Lockett

Will Lockett

4 months ago

The World Will Change With MIT's New Battery

MIT’s new battery is made from only aluminium (left), sulphur (middle) and salt (left) — MIT

It's cheaper, faster charging, longer lasting, safer, and better for the environment.

Batteries are the future. Next-gen and planet-saving technology, including solar power and EVs, require batteries. As these smart technologies become more popular, we find that our batteries can't keep up. Lithium-ion batteries are expensive, slow to charge, big, fast to decay, flammable, and not environmentally friendly. MIT just created a new battery that eliminates all of these problems.  So, is this the battery of the future? Or is there a catch?

When I say entirely new, I mean it. This battery employs no currently available materials. Its electrodes are constructed of aluminium and pure sulfur instead of lithium-complicated ion's metals and graphite. Its electrolyte is formed of molten chloro-aluminate salts, not an organic solution with lithium salts like lithium-ion batteries.

How does this change in materials help?

Aluminum, sulfur, and chloro-aluminate salts are abundant, easy to acquire, and cheap. This battery might be six times cheaper than a lithium-ion battery and use less hazardous mining. The world and our wallets will benefit.

But don’t go thinking this means it lacks performance.

This battery charged in under a minute in tests. At 25 degrees Celsius, the battery will charge 25 times slower than at 110 degrees Celsius. This is because the salt, which has a very low melting point, is in an ideal state at 110 degrees and can carry a charge incredibly quickly. Unlike lithium-ion, this battery self-heats when charging and discharging, therefore no external heating is needed.

Anyone who's seen a lithium-ion battery burst might be surprised. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, none of the components in this new battery can catch fire. Thus, high-temperature charging and discharging speeds pose no concern.

These batteries are long-lasting. Lithium-ion batteries don't last long, as any iPhone owner can attest. During charging, metal forms a dendrite on the electrode. This metal spike will keep growing until it reaches the other end of the battery, short-circuiting it. This is why phone batteries only last a few years and why electric car range decreases over time. This new battery's molten salt slows deposition, extending its life. This helps the environment and our wallets.

These batteries are also energy dense. Some lithium-ion batteries have 270 Wh/kg energy density (volume and mass). Aluminum-sulfur batteries could have 1392 Wh/kg, according to calculations. They'd be 5x more energy dense. Tesla's Model 3 battery would weigh 96 kg instead of 480 kg if this battery were used. This would improve the car's efficiency and handling.

These calculations were for batteries without molten salt electrolyte. Because they don't reflect the exact battery chemistry, they aren't a surefire prediction.

This battery seems great. It will take years, maybe decades, before it reaches the market and makes a difference. Right?

Nope. The project's scientists founded Avanti to develop and market this technology.

So we'll soon be driving cheap, durable, eco-friendly, lightweight, and ultra-safe EVs? Nope.

This battery must be kept hot to keep the salt molten; otherwise, it won't work and will expand and contract, causing damage. This issue could be solved by packs that can rapidly pre-heat, but that project is far off.

Rapid and constant charge-discharge cycles make these batteries ideal for solar farms, homes, and EV charging stations. The battery is constantly being charged or discharged, allowing it to self-heat and maintain an ideal temperature.

These batteries aren't as sexy as those making EVs faster, more efficient, and cheaper. Grid batteries are crucial to our net-zero transition because they allow us to use more low-carbon energy. As we move away from fossil fuels, we'll need millions of these batteries, so the fact that they're cheap, safe, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly will be huge. Who knows, maybe EVs will use this technology one day. MIT has created another world-changing technology.