Amazon Probe Sought at Justice Dept. for Potential Criminal Obstruction, Report Says

Morgan Stanley suggests nickel prices will increase cost of electric vehicles

An investigation of Amazon.com Inc. is being sought by a congressional committee into potential criminal obstruction of Congress, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a letter and people familiar with the matter.

Republican and Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter marked March 9 to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the WSJ said.

Amazon refused to provide information sought by the committee, as part of the Antitrust Subcommittee's investigation into the online retailer's competitive practices, WSJ said. That refusal amounted to a cover up of an alleged lie Amazon told about outside sellers it hosts.

Amazon was not immediately reachable for comment, the WSJ said, and the Justice Department also could not be reached.

“Amazon repeatedly endeavored to thwart the Committee’s efforts to uncover the truth about Amazon’s business practices,” the congressional letter says, according to the report. “For this, it must be held accountable.” The committee is alerting Justice to “potentially criminal conduct by Amazon and certain of its executives” without naming the individuals.

Nickel's Worth More Than A Dime These Days

Yogi Berra's old saw that "A nickel's not worth a dime anymore" may hold true for the coin, but not for the metal.

After battling supply chain disruptions and computer chip shortages, the latest headache for automakers is soaring nickel prices.

Nickel surged above $100,000 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange before it was halted yesterday. The metal's price had climbed 250% over the past two days, and it’s not expected to resume trading until at least Friday. 

nickel

A driving factor has been Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of nickel behind Indonesia and the Philippines. A short squeeze has also fueled the rise.

Nickel is a key component in making lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs), which is one of the largest costs in producing EVs. In a note from Morgan Stanley, analysts say the move in nickel prices could add $1,000 to the cost of producing an EV. They also predicted a shortfall of nickel by 2026 that would keep growing through the end of the decade—and that was before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Morgan Stanley analysts said investors should reduce their expectations for automakers’ earnings and for electric vehicle sales penetration over the next few years. 

While automakers are unlikely to feel the impact immediately because many car makers have locked in nickel prices through long-term contracts, the additional costs could raise doubts about the speed of the transition to electric cars.

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  1. Wall Street Journal: "Amazon Flagged to Justice Department for Possible Criminal Obstruction of Congress." Subscription required.

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