Thank God It's Friday February 8, 2013

The State of the Union speech by President Obama is scheduled for Tuesday February 12th, which for you history buffs is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Since 1968, it’s no longer a national holiday but part of “President’s Day” which falls on Washington’s birthday.  No doubt, Lincoln’s name will come up Tuesday night as he was perhaps the most effective President by ending the Civil War, abolishing slavery whilst holding a divided country intact. Congress could take a lesson about unification from our 16th President!

Energy independence promises to be a core topic of the address to the nation.  We expect to hear the White House has warmed-up to the notion of natural gas being the bridge fuel for the US that will ultimately lead to renewables becoming the norm instead of the exception.  Conversion to cheaper and cleaner natural gas facilities throughout the country has resulted in a return for US manufacturing, job creation and the lowest carbon emissions in decades.  We expect to hear about the energy renaissance, education, technology and debt reduction. Job growth should be a centerpiece. We expect this message to be domestic-centric although OPEC nations should be concerned about this energy renaissance in the United States, because oil is their only real leverage against us.  Iran and Russia in particular have the most to lose of influential foreign powers.  This is a really big deal for so many reasons: big for the US economy, big for US jobs, big for US security, safety and stability.  Energy independence would be a complete game changer.  We’ve anticipated this trend for years and now it’s finally emerging to the fore. GO USA.

We received wonderful news today about our nation’s foreign trade. You may recall that US trade deficit numbers reveal how much our country SELLS abroad VERSUS how much we BUY from foreign sources. The deficit indicates we have been net buyers. US trade deficits SHRUNK over 20% in December! This was much more than expected. This favorable news indicates that America is finally becoming less dependent on international oil and gas production.  The combination of increased exports to foreign buyers and fewer oil imports from the Middle East is having a significant impact on the US economy.    For 16 years, America has imported more than it shipped out. In December, that trend has changed. Sustaining this progress will be tough but we are optimistic. The trend also supports our thesis that 2013 will be a banner year for energy investments.

States like Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Dakota are experiencing economic booms as a result of the recent shale discoveries.  (Shale is smooth dark rock that breaks into layers of compressed clay, silt or mud.) North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 3.2%, which is less than half the national average.  Job openings are plentiful and building abounds to support the growth.  In fact, McDonald’s is paying employees $15 an hour and often runs out of food by 8pm. Once the least traveled state, North Dakota is welcoming people there for jobs and a better opportunity for their families.

By:  Mike Frazier

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