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I want a red phone. It's not that I'm fixated on the color, but I find the concept of a dedicated line to the people we most need to reach in times of distress to be a comforting proposition.
OK, so maybe there's no dedicated red phone in the Oval Office anymore with a direct line to the Kremlin, but here at Fool headquarters, we're setting up a 21st-century version that's expressly designed for you.
With the American economy facing the greatest structural challenges of our collective lifetimes, not only is a steel-industry CEO just the guy to offer a timely assessment of where we stand on the broader road to recovery, but Dan DiMicco has a no-nonsense message of hope for this country's future that I think Fools will genuinely appreciate:
Our country needs a comprehensive program to restore manufacturing and create jobs by replacing our aging infrastructure, achieving energy independence and enforcing our trade agreements. We must return to being a nation that makes and builds things again […]."
Before he takes that message to the masses in an upcoming television partnership with The Dylan Ratigan Show called Steel on Wheels, Dan will be right here with us answering your Foolish questions about the state of American manufacturing, the most practicable means of getting more Americans back to work, or the pressing topics that matter most to you.
Where the discussion may lead
If technology of a greener variety gets you all fired up, ask Dan to fill you in on Nucor's $750 million project to build a plant in Louisiana that will substitute natural gas for metallurgical coal in the iron-production process. Unlike many of the here-today-gone-tomorrow jobs created through certain governmental actions (does the census ring a bell?), projects like these form the brick and mortar of a more sustainable path forward.
Perhaps you've taken notice of increasingly cautious outlooks on the steel sector, and you're keen to hone your understanding of the situation. As far as this Fool is concerned, Dan DiMicco is the ultimate, straight-talking oracle on business conditions in the American industrial complex. Last month, Goldman Sachs pared its expectations for rival U.S. Steel (NYSE: X ) , and Citigroup predicted a rough road for ArcelorMittal (NYSE: MT ) as key overseas markets amassed price-busting inventories. Ask Dan where Nucor's capacity utilization is hovering at present and where he sees that metric trending over the coming year. That single nugget alone can go a long way toward informing an investor's approach to the new year ahead.
If you think outsourcing is no laughing matter -- except of course when it's the focus of a sitcom -- be sure to ask him what is required to make America competitive again on the global stage. A weaker U.S. dollar might be frightful for a number of important reasons, but we might as well make the most of its positive impact on the attractiveness of U.S. exports. Nucor is looking to foreign demand for an increasing, albeit still modest, share of sales going forward, and iconic American manufacturers like Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) are pursuing similar strategies for growth.
Dan DiMicco will be the first to tell you, furthermore, that a heavy dose of infrastructure spending will figure prominently into any successful prescription for a more competitive American industrial base. Of course, that push would translate into improved domestic demand for steel, aluminum, and specialty products like Steel Dynamics' (Nasdaq: STLD ) railroad tracks. Optimism is already building for the likes of Alcoa (NYSE: AA ) , but perhaps a major infrastructure build-out could lift improving outlooks to a more recovery-supporting level. Although added domestic demand for raw materials like copper (which faces a major supply deficit for 2011 already) could exacerbate price increases already under way, investors in U.S.-headquartered miners such as Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (NYSE: FCX ) may at least reap some rewards from the inflationary headache.
Take ownership of your own research
All too often, investors opt to react to streams of spoon-fed commentary when devising investment strategies or making individual stock picks. By offering you direct access to one of the nation's most colorful and straight-talking CEOs, The Motley Fool invites you to place yourself in the center of your research process as an agent for collective inquiry and shared learning.
It's your very own red phone to a better understanding of the challenges we face, and a constructive vision for the nation's road forward, and I encourage you to pick it up by joining our live chat session with Dan DiMicco from 2 to 3 p.m. EST.
I'll let Dan himself have the final word, which underscores the role that we all have to play in rising to these particular challenges:
This is our crisis, our challenge, and our responsibility. We are being called to address and succeed at resolving this economic crisis. Make no mistake about it, we must embrace this opportunity in order to change our direction as a country for the betterment of current and future generations of Americans and, as a result, the rest of the world.