The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released its 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, a comprehensive assessment of 17 major infrastructure categories compiled once every four years. It focuses on a range of criteria such as capacity, condition and public safety in order to evaluate current and future infrastructure needs through a simple A to F school report card format. The good news is that incremental progress has been made with the country’s score climbing from a D+ in 2017 to a C- in 2021. That marks the first time in 20 years that U.S. infrastructure has climbed out of the D range.
Progress was not even everywhere and the research states that 11 out of 17 categories are still stuck with D grades. Five saw their grades increase – aviation, drinking water, energy, inland waterways and ports while a single category – bridges – deteriorated. Despite the fact that things are going in the right direction, the bad news is that the country’s long-term investment gap continues to grow. The U.S. is only paying half of its infrastructure bill and the investment gap has climbed from $2.1 trillion over 10 years to nearly $2.59 trillion over 10 years.
The ASCE states that continued underinvestment in infrastructure at current rates will result in a range of serious economic consequences by 2039. These include the loss of $10 trillion in GDP, $2.4 trillion in exports and more than three million jobs. By the end of the next decade, the problem will cost the average American household $3,300 a year or $63 per week. The report recommends a strategic and holistic plan to renew, modernize and invest in infrastructure, making maintenance its central focus. As it stands, roads that will become too rough to travel on, levees that will not keep storms at bay and bridges that will not be able to accommodate heavy traffic will cause economic havoc.
Looking at the problem in more detail, where is the infrastructure investment gap most pronounced? The U.S. has some $5.9 trillion in funding needs for its infrastructure up to 2029, of which $3.35 trillion is in place. Surface transportation such as roads, highways, bridges and public transportation systems have the biggest cap in funding and require a further $1.2 trillion of investment over the coming decade. Drinking water, wastewater and stormwater also require a considerable financial boost to the tune of $434 billion while schools have the third-highest gap with a further $380 billion required.
*Click below to enlarge (charted by Statista)
Brown Bolsters Student Financial Aid After 52% Investment Return – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Brown University will expand financial aid for students with fundraising gains and returns from its endowment, which led the Ivy League in investment performance, with a 52% increase. The school will increase scholarships for moderate-income students and develop a college-preparatory program for students in its hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, among other initiatives, according to a statement Monday. Brown didn’t detail how much will be spent on the programs. The endowment contributed $194 million to the university’s operating budget in fiscal 2021, Brown said in a statement Monday. “The university has an enduring commitment to ensuring that talented young people can afford to come to Brown, regardless of their socioeconomic background,” Brown University President Christina Paxson said in the statement. “We are fortunate that strong financials provide us with a rare opportunity to make new investments in cultivating the next generation of leaders.”
Because Brown’s endowment contribution to the university’s operating budget is based on average market value over the previous three years, the investment returns contributed in fiscal 2021 are expected to steadily increase in each of the coming years, the school said Monday.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Mastercard expands cryptocurrency services with wallets, loyalty rewards
Mastercard Inc said on Monday it would allow partners on its network to enable their consumers to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency using a digital wallet, as well as reward them with digital currencies under loyalty programs.
The credit card giant said it would offer these services in partnership with Bakkt Holdings Inc, the digital assets platform founded by NYSE-owner Intercontinental Exchange.
Founded in 2018, Bakkt went public earlier this year through a $2.1 billion merger with a blank-check company. Shares of the company were up 77% at $16.19 on Monday.
Mastercard said its partners can also allow customers earn and spend rewards in cryptocurrency instead of loyalty points.
The company had said in February https://www.reuters.com/article/us-crypto-currency-mastercard-idUSKBN2AA2WF it would begin offering support for some cryptocurrencies on its network this year.
Last year, rival Visa Inc had partnered https://www.reuters.com/article/us-blockfi-crypto-currency-visa-idUSKBN28B603 with cryptocurrency startup BlockFi to offer a credit card that lets users earn bitcoin on purchases.
Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, touched a record high of $67,016 last week after the debut of the first U.S. bitcoin futures-based exchange traded fund. It has more than doubled in value this year.
(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)
EU makes first investment in hyperloop – GCR
Dutch engineering spin-off Hardt Hyperloop has been awarded €15m by the European Commission, the first time that the EU has directly funded the development of the ultra-fast transport concept.
The grant was disbursed by the European Innovation Council Accelerator to help the Dutch engineer and its partners continue research and development.
Tim Houter, co-founder of Hardt, said in a press statement that the decision was a vote of confidence in his company and the technology.
“It’s great to have now gained the trust of the European Commission. Their support will help to accelerate the development of a European hyperloop network, bringing us much closer to significant carbon dioxide savings. European cities will be connected smarter, faster and cheaper.”
The funding will also progress the European Hyperloop Centre in Groningen, set to demonstrate lane-switching for a high-speed hyperloop system in 2023.
A pilot project to move freight between Amsterdam and Rotterdam is being investigated by companies, governments and network organisations. Houter said he hoped the route could be developed in the Netherlands within this decade.
The EU is particularly interested in hyperloop because of its fit with the European Green Deal, and the commission’s strategy for sustainable and smart mobility. According to Houter, a European-wide network could save 160 million tonnes of carbon on an annual basis, which would be “more than the entire emissions of the Netherlands”.
Hyperloop pods move autonomously through low-pressure tubes, propelled by fluctuating magnetic fields supplied by the “track” they float over.
Hardt Hyperloop was founded in 2016 by engineers at Delft Technical University. It was involved in building Europe’s first high-speed test facility, and has developed a lane-switching technology that is reckoned to be essential to the development of networks.
Its partners include Schiphol Airport, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Deutsche Bahn, Koolen Industries, InnoEnergy, Freigeist, Bam, Tata Steel and IHC.
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