Perseverance things

Perseverance will do things no rover has ever attempted on Mars — and pave the way for humans – CNN

(CNN)After years of designing, building, planning and testing, the NASA Perseverance rover’s launch readiness review has concluded, and it’s a go for launch on July 30.

Perseverance is armed with a multitude of new capabilities and instruments to explore and experience the red planet.
The rover is designed to determine whether life existed on ancient Mars, characterize the Martian climate and geology and prepare for human exploration. It will investigate Jezero Crater and search for any evidence that the ancient lake bed once supported life.
Perseverance will collect up to 43 samples of Martian rock and soil over the course of its two-year mission. These samples will be stowed in white tubes on the Martian surface to be returned to Earth on a future planned mission.
Riding along with Perseverance to Mars is Ingenuity, the first helicopter that will be flown on another planet. It’s one of several experiments that will test technological capabilities during this mission that may be used more in future missions.
Here’s a look at some of the other exciting features of Perseverance and how it can help pave the way for humans landing on Mars in the future.

Robotic eyes and ears

The rover’s high-resolution camera “eyes” will help Perseverance survey the landscape, look for intriguing rocks to sample and decide where to deploy some of its instruments.
Perseverance’s cameras will be capturing video during the rover’s “seven minutes of terror” as it lands itself on Mars without any help from its teams on Earth, due to the unavoidable communication delay between the two planets.
While the video won’t be available in real time during entry, descent and landing, it will be shared in the weeks after landing.
The rover is also carrying a couple of microphones, and the rover teams look forward to hearing the sounds of the rover’s wheels on the Martian surface and the sound of wind on Mars.
The other microphone is on SuperCam, a scientific instrument that fires a laser at rocks and creates a plasma cloud that can provide the chemical makeup of the rock.
“When we fire this laser on Earth, you can hear a pop or zap,” said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “The science team is hoping with a microphone on top of the mast, they can learn something about the composition of the things their laser is interacting with.”

SHERLOC goes to Mars

The rover’s robotic arm has 21st-century scientific abilities.
The Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry, better known as PIXL, is a tiny, powerful X-ray beam that can detect over 20 chemical elements by pointing a beam at rocks. The beam produces a telling glow associated with each element present in about 10 seconds.
Its partner is known as SHERLOC, short for the long-winded Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals.
SHERLOC can seek out organic molecules and minerals, which helps inform science teams of where to collect and cache samples. Its ultraviolet laser will provide a different glow depending on the organic molecules and minerals it detects.
“These two new capabilities will allow us to investigate a postage stamp-size area for elemental chemistry and organic molecules,” said Ken Farley, Perseverance’s project scientist at the California Institute of Technology. “So we can both make a map of this small area and take a microscopic image. It’s a compelling way to look for microbial biosignatures.”
SHERLOC also carries five different materials used to make spacesuits to test how radiation and elements on Mars could weather and affect them for future human explorers.
And where would SHERLOC be without WATSON, a camera that can take microscopic images of grains in rock and textures? WATSON stands for Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering.

A self-driving vehicle

Human rover teams at NASA will send Perseverance commands once a day, but the rover will rely on its advanced computer “brains” to help it drive autonomously the rest of the time.
Compared to previous rovers, Perseverance has the benefit of a second “brain” installed to help Perseverance land itself on Mars and avoid hazards that will be repurposed once it’s on the surface.
The “brain,” officially known as a vision compute element (VCE), will help it do something called “thinking while driving,” said Heather Justice, robotic operations downlink lead at JPL.
The rover will take images and build a map as it drives, identifying obstacles or slopes in the images and deciding what it can drive around or over to figure out a path forward.

It’s better than GPS

Perseverance will land on Mars using the new Terrain Relative Navigation system, which allows the lander to avoid any large hazards in the landing zone.
“In past missions, the landing zone needed to be like a parking lot,” totally clear of debris, said Andrew Johnson, the rover’s manager of the guidance navigation control system. But in the case of Perseverance, “you can place it in craters, steep slopes, rock fields.”
A sensor called the lander vision system takes pictures during the parachute descent stage. This matches up with the map provided by images taken from orbit, creating a guide that can identify craters, mountains and other landmarks.
The system provides safe target selection by using its map to rank landing sites for their safety. The lander can look for the safest place to land or even divert to a specific spot if it identifies a hazard. And all of the images collected during the landing stage will be sent to the team on Earth.
This system could later be used to land humans on the moon, as well as Mars.

This rover has MOXIE

Astronauts exploring Mars will need oxygen, but carting enough to sustain them on a spacecraft isn’t viable.
Perseverance will carry an apparatus called MOXIE, or the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, to convert Mars’ plentiful carbon dioxide into the oxygen astronauts will need to breathe. Oxygen will also be needed for fuel.
With MOXIE, “you don’t have to take an estimated 27 metric tons of oxygen to Mars” to get them home,” said Mike Hecht, principal investigator for MOXIE at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The small MOXIE experiment will switch on and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for a couple of hours every month or two of the mission, using about a day’s worth of energy on the rover. It will only produce about 10 grams of oxygen an hour — enough for half of a person, Hecht said.
The MOXIE team will apply lessons learned for developing a larger and more powerful system for a manned mission.
“If a bunch of Mark Watneys are going to risk their lives, we better make sure it works,” Hecht said, citing the main character in the novel “The Martian” by Andy Weir.

Monitoring weather and environment

Understanding the weather and environment on Mars will be crucial for determining the conditions astronauts will face.
That’s why the rover has its own monitoring sytem. The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer, called MEDA, is a suite of sensors on the rover to study weather science, dust and radiation, and how they change over Martian seasons.
The instrument will characterize the planet’s environment beyond weather — including variables like temperature, pressure and wind — and gain a better understanding of solar radiation on the surface, according to Manuel de la Torre Juarez, deputy principal investigator for MEDA. The instrument was contributed by a team from the Center for Astrobiology in Madrid.
The temperature on Mars can vary by as much as 80 or 90 degrees between day and night. Understanding radiation from the surface will tell scientists how much the sun heats the air, which causes wind and temperature changes. They could also understand more about the water cycle of Mars.

Peeking beneath the surface

For the first time, a surface mission will include a ground-penetrating radar instrument called RIMFAX, or Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment. It will be able to peek beneath the surface and study Martian geology, looking for rock, ice and boulder layers.
Scientists hope that RIMFAX will help them understand the geologic history of Jezero Crater, according to David Paige, principal investigator for the experiment at the University of California, Los Angeles.
In the future, RIMFAX, or a version of it, could be used by astronauts to find water beneath the surface.
“One of the most useful things we can find is ice below the surface,” Paige said. “It would probably be included in future landers and rovers or airborne vehicles in searching for resources.”
Together, the suite of instruments and experiments on Perseverance will add more pieces to complete the puzzle of Mars.
“Rover missions are designed as situation comedies with an ensemble cast,” Paige said. “Each member has a specific role that contributes to the overall science and addresses a certain subset of questions. Our main goal is, ‘Thank goodness we brought a RIMFAX with us.'”

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Indian things

All the Things Indian Matchmaking’s Aparna Simply Cannot Stand – Vulture

If you’ve watched any of Netflix’s new reality dating series Indian Matchmaking, you’re probably aware that matchmaking hopeful and breakout star Aparna Shewakramani can be a little, well, picky. Throughout the episodes, we follow Aparna as she goes on a series of first dates, set up by the impeccably dressed matchmaker Sima Auntie, with varying degrees of success — due to her (how do we put this kindly?) demanding personality. Look, the woman likes things the way she likes them, and you’d better believe she knows exactly what she likes and what she doesn’t. It just so happens that she doesn’t like much.

We decided to round up everything Aparna has said she simply can’t stand, from comedy to lawyers to first dances at weddings. Sure, the astrologer on the show calls Aparna “fickle minded” and “rude in speech,” but we think she’s just a polarizing woman who isn’t afraid to go after the things she wants in this world and to avoid the things she doesn’t care for — which, again, are many, including:

• Football

“You do you, boo.”
Photo: Netflix

• Watching football (live or on television)

She is nothing if not clear.
Photo: Netflix

• Seeing someone all the time

• Seeing her future husband all the time

Points were made.
Photo: Netflix

• Having been to only 40 countries

• Three-hour dates

• People who need to be the funniest guy in the room

• People who don’t know Bolivia has salt flats

Oh yeah? Oh no.
Photo: Netflix

• Lawyers

• People who want the same things she does

• Changing herself for others

To be fair, she said she was sorry.
Photo: Netflix

• Cooking

The “or ever” is really sending me.

• The outdoors

• Comedy

Okay, this I deeply understand.

• This man she called “the funny man,” whom she dated once

• People who are seven years older than she is

• The food at Rice University

• Not being good at ax-throwing

Who among us has not felt this way?

• Red wine that isn’t Cabernet

Why do I feel like it actually won’t do?

• Men without a clear career path, even if they have written three books

• Men who want to live near the ocean

• Norway (only five hours of sunlight a day)

• Beaches

But she did live on a boat once for 100 days.

• Lying on a beach for more than two or three hours

Don’t make her do it.
Photo: Netflix

• Relaxing for ten days

It’s weird.
Photo: Netflix

• A mountain she climbed in Patagonia

• Dubai

• Disney World

Subtext: I don’t like Disney World.

• Being a lawyer (technically different than “Lawyers”)

Aparna’s response to the question “Do you like being a lawyer?”

• South Africa and other “weirdly touristy places”

Okay, that explains why she doesn’t like Disney World.

• Cuba (felt unsafe/sex tourism)

• Most of her first dates

• Chicago (the city, not the musical)

• When she’s on a date and the guy talks to other people

• Lawyers, again

She really hates lawyers.
Photo: Netflix

• Jupiter driving her astrological bus for 16 years

• The 5K she has to run for her friend’s bachelorette party in NYC

• Passionately romantic men

• Looking inward at why she is so demanding

• Being a lawyer for ten years

• This one goat in her goat-yoga class

• Cakes at weddings

• Flowers at weddings

• First dances at weddings

She doesn’t need any of that stuff.

• Children at weddings

Did you hear that, kids? Never!

Seeing a child at her wedding

“I don’t want to SEE that,” Valerie Cherish but also Aparna re: children at her wedding.

• Waiting for people to begin eating

• Los Angeles (went once for a weekend, left early)

Sima Auntie, trying to find a match for Aparna.

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Coronavirus things

Coronavirus: We could have done things differently, says PM – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionBoris Johnson: We followed scientific advice

Boris Johnson has admitted the government did not understand coronavirus during the “first few weeks and months” of the UK outbreak.

The PM told BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg there were “very open questions” about whether the lockdown had started too late.

Mr Johnson also spoke of “lessons to be learned” and said ministers could have done some things “differently”.

Labour accused the government of “mishandling” the crisis.

More than 45,000 people in the UK have died after testing positive for coronavirus, government figures show, with almost 300,000 cases confirmed.

Last week, Mr Johnson promised an “independent” inquiry into the pandemic, but no details have been given of its scope or timing.

Previously, the prime minister has said he took the “right decisions at the right time”, based on the advice of scientists.

But, in an interview with Laura Kuenssberg to mark the first anniversary of his entering Downing Street, he said: “We didn’t understand [the virus] in the way that we would have liked in the first few weeks and months.

“And I think, probably, the single thing that we didn’t see at the beginning was the extent to which it was being transmitted asymptomatically from person to person.”

Mr Johnson wants to use the government’s experience of what happened during the pandemic to speed up his agenda, to “double down on levelling up”, as he puts it in his peculiar political jargon.

In other words, to push ahead with more determination, and less fudge in Whitehall, with the changes that he says will actually improve the lives of voters, particularly those who voted Tory for the first time in 2019.

While preparing the NHS for a potential second surge, he clearly wants to concentrate on what’s next, not what’s gone before.

But perhaps until the government is really ready to acknowledge what has happened, the questions will continue – and the public may still feel anxious about whether they can really trust ministers to handle a second surge next time round.

Just as 366 days ago, optimism is Boris Johnson’s trademark.

But if the last few months have shown anything, it is that the real challenge of life in power, is that events that can surprise.

The prime minister added: “I think it’s fair to say that there are things that we need to learn about how we handled it in the early stages…There will be plenty of opportunities to learn the lessons of what happened.”

The UK went into full lockdown in late March, which critics say was too late and cost lives.

Mr Johnson said: “Maybe there were things we could have done differently, and of course there will be time to understand what exactly we could have done, or done differently.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Boris Johnson was himself diagnosed with coronavirus in March

He added that these were still “very open questions as far as [scientists] are concerned, and there will be a time, obviously, to consider all those issues”.

On Friday, the government announced that 30 million people in England would be offered a flu vaccine this year, to reduce pressure on the NHS in case of a surge in coronavirus infections during the autumn and winter.

Mr Johnson said this was in addition to increased testing and tracing and more procurement of personal protective equipment, adding: “What people really want to focus on now is what are we doing to prepare for the next phase.”

He said: “We mourn every one of the of those who lost their lives and our thoughts are very much with their with their families. And I take full responsibility for everything that government did.”

The prime minister, who was himself placed in intensive care in April after contracting coronavirus, said he would “very soon” set out an new measures to deal with obesity, seen as an added risk factor for patients.

‘Doubling down’

In December, Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party pulled off a convincing general election win over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, after promising to “level up” all parts of the UK.

And, despite the economic damage caused by coronavirus in the past four months or so, the prime minister promised to create more nurses, doctors, hospitals and police, saying his government’s priorities were “exactly what they always have been except more so. We’re doubling down.”

“The agenda is what it was when I stood on the steps of Downing Street a year ago, but we want to go further and we want to go faster.”

Mr Johnson reminisced about first entering No 10 as prime minister on 24 July 2019, saying it “was very exciting, and everybody seemed to be in a very good mood” and “happy, upbeat”. He added that coronavirus had caused many “difficulties” since then.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionIn full: Laura Kuenssberg speaks to Boris Johnson

“Psychologically it’s been an extraordinary time for the country,” Mr Johnson said,

“But I also know that this is a nation with incredible natural resilience, and fortitude and imagination. And I think we will bounce back really much stronger than ever before.”

For Labour, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Boris Johnson has finally admitted the government has mishandled its response to the coronavirus.

“It was too slow to acknowledge the threat of the virus, too slow to enter lockdown and too slow to take this crisis seriously.”

The threat of a second wave of infections was “still very real”, he added, while it was “imperative the government learns the lessons of its mistakes so we can help to save lives”.

Acting Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said an “immediate” coronavirus inquiry was “essential”, and that the prime minister had shown “no remorse” for his “catastrophic mistakes”.

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About things

Five Things to Know About UAE’s First Mission to Mars – Gizmodo

Artist’s conception of the UAE’s Hope Probe.

Artist’s conception of the UAE’s Hope Probe.
Image: UAE Space Agency

The Emirates Hope Mission, scheduled to launch this Friday, is the first Arab attempt to reach the Red Planet. Here’s how the UAE will endeavor to make history.

The Hope spacecraft, or Al Amal, was supposed to launch today from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan, but bad weather has bumped the launch to Friday, July 17. The 3,000-pound (1,350-kilogram) spacecraft—essentially a Martian weather satellite—will be delivered to space and nudged toward Mars atop a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H-2A rocket. Come Friday, you’ll be able to watch the action here.

Hope, which will enter into orbit around Mars in February 2021, will be used to study the planet’s atmosphere and weather. Assuming all goes well, this will mark the first Arab mission to Mars, or any other planet for that matter.

The Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) is one of three scheduled missions to the Red Planet during the now-open launch window, the others being NASA’s Perseverance rover, launching in two weeks, and China’s Tianwen-1 lander. (The European and Russian ExoMars mission had to be postponed due to technical delays and the covid-19 pandemic.) This launch window happens once every 26 months, offering the most direct route from Earth to the Red Planet.

G/O Media may get a commission

Here are five things to know about this historic mission.

Made in the UAE—but With a Little Help From Friends

In the works since 2013, the Hope project was planned, managed, and implemented by an Emirati team, with oversight and funding coming from the UAE Space Agency, according to Arab News.

It cost the UAE some $200 million to build, which includes launch expenses contracted out to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. That’s a fairly modest price tag considering the $670 million it cost NASA to build the MAVEN spacecraft, a comparable mission launched to Mars in 2013. Still, nothing compares to India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, with its remarkably low price tag of $74 million.

The Hope satellite during development.

The Hope satellite during development.
Image: UAE Space Agency

The UAE had never embarked on a project like this before, so it smartly sought out expertise from U.S. institutions, including the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, which had previously worked on the MAVEN mission. As BBC reports, Emirati and U.S. engineers collaborated on the design and manufacturing of the spacecraft.

“It’s one thing to tell somebody how to ride a bike but until you’ve done it, you don’t really understand what it’s like. Well, it’s the same with a spacecraft,” Brett Landin, a senior systems engineer at LASP, told the BBC. “I could give you the process for fuelling a spacecraft, but until you’ve put on an escape suit and transferred 800 kg [1,765 pounds] of highly volatile rocket fuel from storage tanks into the spacecraft, you don’t really know what it’s like.”

Fair point.

A Point of National Pride

The Emirates Hope Mission will coincide with the UAE’s upcoming 50th anniversary as a nation, which is likely no coincidence.

Speaking to SpaceflightNow, Omran Sharaf, project manager for the EMM, said the “identity of the mission is not just about the UAE, it’s also for the Arab world.” The mission is “supposed to inspire the Arab youth, and send a message of hope to them, and a message that basically tells them if a country like the UAE is able to reach Mars in less than 50 years, then you guys can do much more given the history you have, given the human talent that you have,” he said.

An Arab expedition to Mars will undoubtedly kindle a renewed sense of national pride, but the mission, it is hoped, will also “inspire future Arab generations to pursue space science,” according to the EMM website. What’s more, a “sustainable, future-proof economy is a knowledge-based economy,” writes the UAE Space Agency.

The investment in STEM fields, and space tech in particular, is a smart move for the UAE, especially in consideration of tanking oil prices.

A Unique Orbit for Doing Science

Once at Mars, Hope will enter into a unique equatorial orbit high above the Red Planet. Moving in the same direction as the planet’s rotation, Hope will complete a single orbit once every 55 hours or so. This will allow the probe’s instruments to gaze at a single target for prolonged periods.

The journey to Mars.

The journey to Mars.
Image: UAE Space Agency

“The desire to see every piece of real estate at every time of day ended up making the orbit very large and elliptical,” LASP scientist David Brain told the BBC. “By making those choices, we will for example be able to hover over Olympus Mons (the largest volcano in the Solar System) as Olympus Mons moves through different times of day. And at other times, we’ll be letting Mars spin underneath us,” to which he added: “We’ll get full disc images of Mars, but our camera has filters, so we’ll be doing science with those images—getting global views with different goggles on, if you like.”

Oooh, a cool new view of Olympus Mons? We can’t wait.

The ‘First Weather Satellite for Mars’

Once in orbit, Hope will study the Martian atmosphere on a global scale. Data gathered by the probe will be used to track changes as influenced by the shifting seasons and as the Martian day turns to night. The probe will also be used to study the planet’s hydrogen and oxygen, some of which is leaching out into space; Hope will study weather patterns in both the lower and middle atmosphere to figure out why.

The Hope probe should also answer questions about Mars’s early history, and how this planet, once wet and blanketed by a thick atmosphere, became the cold, dry, and desolate place it is today.

Being the weather satellite that it is, the probe will improve our understanding of severe weather conditions on Mars, including gigantic dust towers and global dust storms that appear from time to time, such as the epic one that ended the Opportunity mission in 2018.

“We are the very first weather satellite for Mars,” explained Sarah al-Amiri, deputy project manager for the Hope mission, during a webinar back in June. “Past missions have only sporadically studied atmospheric conditions, looking at specific locations at specific times. It’s like me telling you to study Earth at different times of the day in Alaska, London, and the UAE, and then be able to form a complete picture of the weather and climate,” she said.

At a more broader, conceptual level, the Hope satellite will be of assistance to scientists trying to assess the planet’s prior or even current ability to host life. And in addition to refining our sense of Mars as a geological system, Hope will prepare scientists for a future crewed mission to the Red Planet, according to the UAE Space Agency.

Three Tools for the Job

To fulfill these ambitious goals, the Hope spacecraft is equipped with three primary scientific instruments: a camera, an infrared spectrometer, and an ultraviolet spectrometer.

Hope probe instruments.

Hope probe instruments.
Image: UAE Space Agency

The camera, called Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI), will capture high-resolution images of Mars, measure the depth of water ice in the atmosphere, and study the Martian ozone layer, among other things.

The Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) will scan the lower Martian atmosphere in the infrared band, allowing for observations of dust, ice clouds, and water vapor. This instrument can also take the temperature of the surface and lower atmosphere.

The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) will be used to measure the distribution of carbon monoxide, oxygen, and hydrogen at various altitudes and across the Martian seasons. With this data, scientists will compile a three-dimensional map, showing the distribution of oxygen and hydrogen in the atmosphere.

Hope should dramatically improve our understanding of the Red Planet, but we’ll have to wait until early next year for the data to start pouring in. Best of luck to the UAE as the team p

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start things

Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day – Bloomberg

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things Wells

3 Things Wells Fargo Stock Bulls Need to Happen Soon – Motley Fool

The beleaguered banking giant has had a tough time lately. Here’s what it needs to catch a break.

The banking industry has been under pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, as low interest rates to stimulate the broader economy have hurt the industry’s ability to grow profits. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), in particular, has suffered as a result, in part because it faces restrictions that other banks don’t.

Wells Fargo is set to release its second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday, July 14. Investors expect a tough quarter that’s likely to include a significant loss and declines in key revenue figures. Yet there are still some bullish investors who think that Wells Fargo is a smart value play at current prices. Here’s what Wells Fargo bulls need to see in order for the stock to start gaining ground again.

1. Wells Fargo needs to limit the size of its dividend cut

Wells Fargo disappointed investors in June by signaling that it would need to cut its quarterly dividend. Unlike the other big U.S. banks, which explicitly said that they would keep their dividends unchanged, the California-based banking giant failed to come out with a defense of its quarterly payout.

Instead, CEO Charles Scharf warned shareholders that Wells Fargo would likely need to increase its allowance for loan losses to a much greater extent that in did in the first quarter. The bank’s move three months ago was big enough to wipe out almost all of Wells Fargo’s profits, and analysts expect this quarter’s allowance to push earnings into negative territory.

Outside of Wells Fargo branch, with white concrete building and some minor landscaping in front.

Image source: Wells Fargo.

If that happens, Wells Fargo will have to reduce its dividend. New Federal Reserve rules will mandate a reduction based on the corresponding fall in net income.

How big a cut depends on what Wells Fargo’s financials look like, but bulls need that reduction not to be too big. The stock’s current 8.5% yield already reflects expectations of a cut. As long as the reduction keeps yields at respectable levels around 3% to 4%, like its peers, then Wells should be able to overcome downward pressure from disappointed dividend investors.

2. Wells needs to get the Fed to let it grow again

From a long-term perspective, Wells Fargo investors need to see light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Yet the bank still faces a monumental hurdle in the cap on assets that the Fed has imposed on it.

Wells was required to keep its assets from growing beyond a fixed maximum amount as part of regulators’ response to the multiple scandals that the bank faced in recent years. Wells hit that limit toward the end of 2019, and for the most part, that has required it to give up on growth opportunities that other banks have been able to pursue more effectively.

Wells has gotten some relief from the asset cap. In order to participate in programs designed to help Americans deal with the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, Wells asked the Fed for approval to make loans under the federal government’s stimulus measures. The Fed granted that request, but only enough to let Wells lend $10 billion out of the $350 billion authorized under the legislation.

With rates at such low levels, growing assets is one of the only ways for banks to boost their profits. Wells needs to convince the Fed to undo its punishment for its past practices, or else it’ll be doomed to second-rate status behind the unrestricted growth of its primary rivals.

3. Wells needs Warren Buffett to stay confident

Warren Buffett has been a longtime investor in Wells Fargo and other banks and remains a major shareholder in several financial institutions. However, his Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) has reduced its position in Wells stock significantly in recent years, going from nearly 480 million shares in early 2017 to just 323 million currently.

Berkshire sales of Wells Fargo were especially significant late last year, with declines of more than 31 million shares in the third quarter of 2019 and more than 55 million shares in the fourth quarter. Since then, Buffett has held pat.

It’s important that it stay that way. If Berkshire reports more Wells Fargo stock sales in mid-August, then it would send a definite signal that the Oracle of Omaha has lost faith in the bank.

A key time for Wells Fargo

Banking stocks have been under pressure in 2020, and few have seen more difficulty than Wells Fargo. Bulls need to see some good news from Wells soon, and these three items will be critical in determining the future of the California-based bank.

Dan Caplinger owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaw

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things Watch

Six things to watch at the Federal Reserve meeting – Financial Times

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