Miners and Utilities at Odds over Uranium Price Forecasts

Nowhere was it more evident of battle lines being drawn between suppliers and end users in the nuclear fuel sector than at the Platts Second Annual Nuclear Fuel Strategies conference on September 26th. Since April, various utility consultants and fuel brokers have routinely contacted StockInterview to ‘talk down’ the uranium price. Frequent is the mantra about how speculators and hedge funds are driving the spot uranium price higher. But spot uranium and long-term contracts march higher each month. While utilities appear complacent, there is now an underlying panic lurking beneath the surface.About an hour after UxC announced Tuesday’s weekly spot price hike – now to $54/pound, Rajiv Kundalkar, Vice President of Nuclear Engineering for Florida Power and Light took the podium in the Pavilion Room of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. to pound the table as to why uranium prices should take a dive. As Mr. Kundalkar progressed through his presentation, many in the audience wondered if he was the industry’s latest sacrificial lamb. Kundalkar galloped out of the presentation room within moments after he answered the final question.Clearly Kundalkar’s audience disagreed with his conclusions of a uranium price downturn, sometime in 2007. Questioning after his presentation could be summarized in one word: brutal. It was because Kundalkar argued the uranium price was artificially high due to a perception of tight supply.He compared uranium’s spectacular price rise over the past six years to the jump in palladium prices. Kundalkar concluded palladium rose and fell, and so should uranium. He particularly emphasized the collapse of palladium mining stocks, which fell after the underlying commodity sunk lower.He explained there was an abundant supply of uranium from Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan, both now and especially in the coming years. Kundalkar pointed out that delays in the licensing of new reactors in China and India would suppress the demand for uranium. He added that Cigar Lake, Olympic Dam and Kazakhstan would provide sufficient uranium to meet the Western World requirements.Rather than blink at the short-term rise in uranium, Kundalkar explained away any concern about the soaring fuel costs by announcing Florida Power and Light was pursuing long term strategies and cost-control initiatives. One such plan was to make reactors more efficient. On the initiative that his plants would become more efficient, one must wonder what maximum capacity those reactors can endure. Ten years ago, nuclear power plants ran 75 percent capacity. Presently, they are being pushed to their limits above 90 percent. Kundalkar was not forthcoming in any details about how his utility would institute cost-control initiatives.After we called him on his three main sources of supply, asking Kundalkar if he had measured the risk variables inherent with those regions, he acknowledged he had done so. Instead, we lean toward believing he glibly digested industry reports, as far too many have done, but failed to investigate further or probe deeper about supply risks. Another questioned Kundalkar if Florida Power and Light had participated in the recent Department of Energy uranium sale. The utility had not. He admitted he thought the price was too high. Instead, Cameco Corp bought the uranium and quickly resold some of it for a profit.Bad News for Uranium BearsHad he not scrambled away from the conference, Kundalkar might have been shocked by the disclosures in the afternoon presentations which followed him. Had Kundalkar presented his thesis to a less savvy audience, he might have received something more than a polite applause when he stepped down. From the disgruntled audience, one long-time industry consultant asked Kundalkar point blank: Have you heard of peak oil?Unwitting denial about supply risks has its consequences. The next step down the descending staircase for complacent U.S. utilities came from Jim Ferland, head of Louisiana Energy Services (LES). This was Ferland’s final appearance on behalf of LES as he has since taken a VP job with Westinghouse. In his parting speech, Ferland announced an anti-nuclear lobbying group had filed an appeal against LES for their NRC license in the District of Columbia Circuit Court. He warned there was a potential risk of a stay or worse. By worse, Ferland inferred the uranium enrichment plant might never operate at all. The consequence of ‘worse’ hung like a dark cloud in the room.Should the appeal be dismissed, Ferland cautioned about labor availability in eastern New Mexico. Already, the company is worrying about higher labor costs and is expecting to go over budget on both plant construction and operations. LES may have difficulty finding an ample supply of electrical workers and aluminum welders necessary for building the National Enrichment Facility. He announced that getting the NRC license was relatively easy compared to what the company would go through to construct the enrichment plant.U.S. utilities are counting upon the new uranium enrichment center for the SWU to power their reactors. Will it arrive on time? No one can say right now, but Ferland stuck to LES projections of the first SWU being delivered by fourth quarter 2008 and three million SWU generated in late 2012 to 2013. An expansion decision won’t be made until 2009. But then again, Ferland will be at Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, not in New Mexico where LES will be sweating to build that facility.More Bad News if Utilities Believe Kazak ProjectionsIn what would qualify as the most sincere presentation of the day, Power Resources Chief Executive Fletcher Newton discussed the upside and downside of uranium mining in Kazakhstan. It is both a tribute to the crystal clear transparency of Cameco and their subsidiary, Power Resources, in providing us the truth about this difficult Central Asian country. Promising as Kazakhstan sounds on paper, Fletcher Newton concluded during his presentation that mining in this country would be challenging. More specifically, he said, “There is lots of uranium out there, but getting it will be a challenge.”Newton described the Inkai solution mining project in Kazakhstan, of which one section is 600 feet long by 300 feet wide. It will be the largest solution mining project in the world – producing about 2000 tons annually, roughly 5 million pounds. The deposit has extraordinary head grades, which is the uranium grade at the commencement of the solution mining. Newton pointed out that in the United States head grades are about 100 parts per million (ppm) of uranium. At Crowe Butte (Nebraska), Power Resources is getting 43 ppm.By comparison, the head grades in Kazakhstan reach 250ppm and are averaging over 200ppm. While the deposits are deeper, down to 1500 feet, Cameco will be drilling about five times fewer wells because of those exemplary ppms. The cost per well will be more expensive, but there will be less wells to drill. Of course, there are shortages of drill rigs, which adds another frustrating twist to mining in this country.To mine these deposits by the in situ leach method, Cameco/Power will need about 40 kilograms of sulphuric acid to produce one kilogram of uranium. Newton bluntly announced, “To mine 100 metric tons of uranium will require 40 million kilograms of sulphuric acid.” He explained this annually amounted to 2200 truckloads of sulphuric acid – about six truckloads per day. Every day year ’round.From where will Cameco get this vast amount of sulphuric acid? Newton explained there were literally mountains of sulphur waste remaining from the high-sulfur Caspian oil production. From there one could obtain sulphuric acid. He acknowledged Cameco, Areva or the Kazakhs would first need to build several sulphuric acid plants. His best-case scenario for such a plant would be in five years. On the worst case scenario, Fletcher skirted the issue, explaining the Kazaks needed to streamline their operations.And therein one finds the headaches. The infrastructure is lacking. New roads will have to be built to replace the ‘camel trails’ and truck the material from the mining operation to the processing facility. The Kazaks aren’t quite ready for all those trucks. Newton explained the arrival of traffic jams in this backward nation, adding an anecdote about a recent traffic accident resulting in a fatality. While we take these for granted, it is an unusual development in the backcountry areas of Kazakhstan where animals are the primary transportation mode. Yet another headache: new transmission lines will also be required to generate the electricity to run the operations.Newton discussed the weather. Similar to northern Wyoming, he called the weather “a fast changing climate.” He showed his audience a slide of tall snow drifts, explaining the snowstorm produced this much snow in 45 minutes. In the winter, Cameco has learned to keep bulldozers nearby to dig out of the heavy snowfall. In the summer, roads need rebuilt from the flooding.A more serious problem is the labor force. Newton showed a slide of a cozy Kazak peasant family during his presentation. After he spoke, we talked with him, asking about the labor force. Newton explained that it would be peasants such as the one in the slide that would provide the bulk of labor for Cameco’s Kazak operations. Again, during his presentation he referred to most of the country as having one’s foot back in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. We dared not ask him if they still played polo with the heads of their enemies as they did in the movie, “The Man Who Would Be King.”What will materialize when the Kazak labor force discovers they need to share in the uranium profiteering? Chilean miners struck in August at BHP’s Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, this past August, citing the steep rise in copper prices. BHP hopes to avert another strike at the nearby Spence project. Teck Cominco averted a strike Sunday night at the Highland Valley copper mine in British Columbia by reaching a tentative contract with the miner’s union. As utilities and other uranium bears explain that uranium will become more abundant as more companies bring on more projects, few are factoring in the rising labor costs, the variables inherent with developing new infrastructure and the likelihood of delays. Environmentalists have also begun rearing their heads over various projects. Few are factoring in this risk. The more active these anti-nuclear groups become, the greater they abet the rising uranium price.The Milk AnecdoteBusiness in Kazakhstan is not what one finds in the West. Newton admitted during his presentation that the Kazaks don’t report their uranium production as other countries do. For example, he discovered from a border guard that Kazakhstan had been shipping about 50 metric tons of uranium oxide to China every month for several months. But, nothing of that had been reported in the media or to organizations, such as the World Nuclear Association, which track mining production for each country.One can not be certain of what to believe when KazAtomProm issues a forecast. Yet, many utilities, such as Florida Power and Light, swallow these predictions without a second thought. Questioned about Kazak production forecasts, Newton responded there were those who had “big thoughts.” In the presentation which followed, by Patricia Mohr, Vice President for Economics at Canada’s Scotiabank, she said while the Kazaks have extremely ambitious plans, their timeline was “unrealistic.”Newton deftly provided the “milk anecdote” for his audience while avoiding a direct answer to the question about KazAtomProm’s robust production forecasts. He explained that this reminded him of the old Soviet Union, when a top Communist party official met with the general manager of a Russian dairy cooperative. The party official asked the manager if he could quadruple last year’s milk production. Of course, the manager promised he would, vowing that he would do this for the Politburo and so forth. Then, the official asked the manager if he could increase production by eight times. The manager announced it could be done and that he would do it for the glory of the Fatherland. Finally, the party official asked the manager if he could increase milk production by 16 times over the previous year. Exasperated, the manager declared that he would achieve this target, saying, “I can do it, but the milk is going to look a lot like water.”Perhaps this anecdote will help Florida Power and other utilities become more cautious when readily factoring in Kazak uranium production into their fuel supply expectations.COPYRIGHT © 2007 by StockInterview, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Evaluate Your Performance This Year to Increase Next Year’s Success

William, the owner of a health care consulting business, emailed me last week in preparation for our upcoming call. Should we discuss his goals for next year, he wondered, or should we reflect first on the year that just passed?We can do both at the same time, I replied.Back in January, William created five goals he wanted to work on. (He thought fewer would be better, and I agreed.) Of the five goals, he’d nailed two of them, had gotten very close to two, and had abandoned the last one mid-year.After congratulating him on a job well done, I asked, “What do you think made you accomplish those first two goals and get close to the next two? What caused you to give up on the fifth?”In other words, I wanted William to consider what the ideal conditions were for accomplishing each of his goals, and to judge whether those conditions had been in place during the past year. This exercise often sheds a great deal of light on why you did or did not achieve what you set out to do. You can try it for yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:Did the goal harness your strengths? William is a great people person and connector, so his goal of increasing his business by tapping into his referral network was perfect for him. It was something he enjoyed working on because he was good at it.Was it a group effort, or did it rest solely on you? One of William’s goals, bringing a new product to market, required the help of his leadership team. He succeeded because he was able to share his vision with the people who worked for him. Did your goal depend on the cooperation of others? How well did that work out?Did you make the goal a priority? What seems important at the beginning of the year sometimes falls off the radar as the months progress. Last January, William wanted to expand his business by buying another small practice that would add a service his company didn’t provide. While this seemed like a good idea at the time, he didn’t focus on the goal until the second quarter. By the time this goal moved into the priority position, the company had decided to merge with another firm.Did you have a concrete plan to make the goal a reality? You’re more likely to accomplish a goal if you have a road map to get there. You can either plan backward or forward; it’s up to you. With backward planning, imagine the goal has been accomplished and ask yourself: what would have to happen just before that? And just before that? And so on. With forward planning, start from today and list the steps that will take you to your goal.Was it really your goal, or was it someone else’s? It’s hard to admit it to ourselves when a plan is based upon others saying, “Here’s what you should do.” If you’re trying to accomplish a goal mainly because other people think it’s a good idea, or because everyone else is doing it, you may not be pursuing it with your whole heart. Before setting a goal, ask yourself if this is what you really want.Does your goal energize you? Do your spirits soar when you think about working on the goal, or do you feel drained? When something is true and right for you, you’ll feel it somewhere in your body. (For me, it’s in my gut.) The thought of trying something new may make you anxious; that’s normal. Let the twinge of fear clear away before you really assess whether your goal is worth doing.As 2012 winds down, it’s a great time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished, and more important, to think about why some things got done and others didn’t. How will you use this year’s experience to design your goals for 2013?

Uranerz Energy: Developing Uranium Projects in Wyoming

Relatively speaking, it’s not saying much, but Wyoming’s Powder River Basin is presently the largest uranium producing area in the United States. Cameco’s (NYSE: CCJ) Smith Ranch produces over one million pounds of uranium oxide, more than one-third of U.S. uranium production. Because the spot uranium price has now surpassed $50/pound, more uranium development companies expect to profitably produce uranium in Wyoming. Uranerz Energy (Amex: URZ) has initiated environmental licensing and mine planning on two properties, which could make the company one of the leading junior uranium producers in this state. It would also bring more attention to uranium companies bringing their U.S. projects online.Investors generally miss the boat when evaluating the junior uranium companies. While many accept the fact that only a handful of companies should be producing uranium by 2010, very few understand U.S. and foreign utilities have been negotiating to buy this uranium from companies which have not yet permitted those properties to be mined. Of course, after these announcements are made, the stocks would likely soar if the spot uranium price is sustained above $50/pound. Many of these uranium development projects are reportedly economic at sub-$40/pound uranium. Last week, CIBC World Market set a price target of $70/pound on spot uranium for 2008, which should help boost the sector.Uranerz Energy is an excellent benchmark for other uranium companies. When we met with the company’s Chief Executive Glenn Catchpole in Cheyenne this past February, he explained his company would be building a “Chevrolet” sort of in situ operation, not a Cadillac. In other words, he would construct an inexpensive, but functional, solution mining facility. These facilities, called in situ leach (ISL) mining or more correctly in situ recovery (ISR) operations, are basically water treatment plants. Oxygenated water is pumped through the sandstone to dislodge the trapped uranium. The uranium is recovered and then processed in a nearby facility. Catchpole believes his company can build an ISR plant for about $10 million, possibly less.He told us in August his company has an indicated uranium resource on the Hank and Nichols Ranch properties in excess of 13 million pounds of uranium oxide. Both properties are located in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Drilling this past summer confirmed the historically known uranium resource along about 8,500 feet of strike length. The drilling apparently found an additional uranium-mineralized horizon. Before Uranerz issued its news release in August, the company staked another 54 federal mining claims in the immediate area. After thirteen holes were drilled on its Hank property, of which nine encountered uranium mineralization, Uranerz staked or leased another 840 acres near this property. Again, this drilling confirmed historical data. Developments on both properties bode well for the company’s prospects.Investors should separate the junior uranium exploration companies, of which there are about three hundred worldwide, from those which are developing uranium projects in the United States. During the last uranium boom, in the 1970s, major U.S. oil companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars in exploration drilling and delineating uranium deposits. After Three Mile Island, the sector went into a 25-year depression and the oil companies got out of the business. A few industry insiders, such as Catchpole, picked up those nearly developed uranium properties for a song.A global nuclear renaissance has revived the hopes for many juniors, which means there are too many with too little. We focused on those developing resources, which were in the planning stages before the drought arrived. Quietly, Uranerz Energy assembled its U.S. portfolio, farming out its Canadian and Mongolian uranium exploration prospects to others, who would pay the freight for a potential discovery. As with three similar Wyoming-based uranium companies we’ve been tracking – Strathmore Minerals, UR-Energy and Energy Metals, Uranerz is moving quickly toward commercially mining uranium. Others are still looking for a deposit, and many investors don’t realize the last major uranium discovery was about 20 years ago. That one should go into production next year.Trying to shake further data out of Glenn Catchpole borders upon frustration. He is “old school” uranium, which means he just goes ahead with his mining project and talks very little about it. In an August telephone conversation, Uranerz chairman Dennis Higgs laughed about how little Catchpole will tell even him about the company’s properties. Having worked as a senior executive with Uranerz Exploration, before it was acquired by Cameco, Catchpole was once general manager of Cameco’s Inkai solution mining project in Kazakhstan. He brought with him many of the senior executives and technical team from the old Uranerz. For example, the company’s chief operating officer, George Hartman, was the mines manager for Westinghouse’s Wyoming Mineral Corporation and has spent more than 35 years in the uranium and minerals sector.If one is looking for chatty, Uranerz is the wrong place to look. We hounded Catchpole for a number of months with emails and phone calls for some sort of update on his project. At first, he told us he was developing something in Wyoming. As we got to know him better, he told us it was somewhere in the Powder River Basin. We discovered, as did everyone else, how valuable his projects might become in an early August news release. The company’s website is just as secretive. This sentence describes the company’s Wyoming projects: “Based on Uranerz management’s in-situ recovery mining experience in the Powder River Basin, the Company feels that it has sufficient critical mass in terms of mineable uranium resources to begin commercial environmental permitting and mine development planning.”Why would anyone put up with this? Our conversations around the uranium sector confirmed what we suspected about Uranerz Energy. Glenn Catchpole is credible. He may be quiet, but he knows how to bring a project into commercial operation. We got the nod from Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality land manager that Catchpole gets the job done right. With a $10 to $30 profit spread per pound of uranium, Uranerz Energy could very well deliver promising future earnings.According to Catchpole, Uranerz hopes to begin commercial operations sometime in 2008. That may be subject to change, but that is probably the same ballpark date UR-Energy has been talking about. Strathmore Minerals may start around the same timeframe. Energy Metals is concentrating their primary efforts in Texas, but the company did establish an office in Casper, Wyoming’s largest city, which is also near the Powder River Basin.What all of this adds up to is this: Uranerz and its Wyoming competitors could uplift U.S. uranium production. At this writing, U.S. utility consumption of uranium outpaces U.S. uranium production by a factor of more than 20 to 1. While we hear the mantra of breaking U.S. dependence on foreign oil, U.S. utilities are at the mercy of foreign-mined uranium. At this time, about one-half of this uranium comes from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads. This ends in 2013 when the US-Russian HEU (highly enriched uranium) swords-for-plowshares deal is terminated. U.S. utilities will be scrambling to fill the gap. And companies such as Uranerz Energy should be producing sufficient uranium to help make up some of that difference.COPYRIGHT © 2007 by StockInterview, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Public – Private Partnerships in International Trade Transportation and Logistics

Sometimes the goals and objectives of organizations that are fundamentally different in purpose and nature intersect. In these instances, they frequently “team up” by combining their respective resources and expertise in ways that result in a common benefit. A concrete manifestation of this notion resides in the creation of what are commonly referred to as Public – Private Partnerships, or PPPs.Public Private Partnerships, as the name suggests, bring together taxpayer-funded entities, that are duly charged with the mission of using community resources to enhance the public welfare, while it is the goal of private businesses to produce and deliver value-added goods and services that meet the needs and satisfy the wants of their consumers, as well as generate profit for the businesses themselves.In well-structured and effective PPPs, both types of participating organizations can successfully address and achieve their respective goals.Among many others, transportation and logistics is one area in which the interests of both the public and private sectors occupy common ground. This is the case all over the country, but is particularly true along the United States border with its southern neighbor, Mexico. Congestion, mainly as a result of commercial bridge traffic volume between the two countries at El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico has long been the source of a number of vexing problems for both business and government, as well as a general drag on economic activity in the region and beyond.From the perspective of private business, traffic congestion on the bridges that connect the two cities, and the associated time delays in commercial crossings creates one set of problems. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, among the concerns created for private business as a consequence of this state of affairs are a need to:• account and plan for a higher risk of inventory and production failures• make an effort to mitigate a greater risk of product degradation• address greater job site expenses• deal with problems related to increased congestion at loading docks and freight staging areas• accept lower levels of worker productivityIn short, from the view of private businesses located on both sides of the U.S. Mexico border, longer commercial crossing times result in economic inefficiency and negatively impacted bottom lines.According to the same source, an identical set of circumstances gives birth to a different set of headaches when viewed from the public sector side of the fence. Traffic congestion at the U.S. – Mexico border bridges at El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico generates:• increased vehicle emissions and causes a subsequent lowering of air quality• accelerated bridge infrastructure degradation and the need for greater and more frequent bridge maintenance• congestion on regional roadways at peak crossing times• disruptions to neighborhoods that are situated in the environs of the bridges• safety concerns related to stationary and slow moving hazardous cargoGiven the common root from which have sprung a disparate set of problems affecting parties in both realms in El Paso (the public and private sectors), the City of El Paso and a private sector company, Secure Origins, Inc., came together at the beginning of October of 2012. This joint effort was given the moniker “Project 21,” to begin to tackle the difficulties associated with this set of problematic circumstances. At that time, El Paso’s city government agreed to fund Secure Origins in the amount of $195,000 to run a three month pilot program aimed at using a technology-based tracking system to expedite commercial cross-border flows at El Paso and Ciudad Juarez’s most congested point of international traffic, the Zaragoza Bridge. In addition to addressing the aforementioned problems faced by both of the parties to the agreement, it was anticipated that the program would also be of benefit to the multitude federal entities that carry out their respective missions at the bridge. For instance, hastening the speed of the flow of commercial traffic at the crossing point through the use of technology would free Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to focus their resources on facilitating and expediting the movement of the passenger vehicles that traverse the bridge.Upon the conclusion of the three month pilot project on January 15, 2013, a review of the results revealed that the average crossing time of the vehicles that were monitored and directed using the technology that was implemented by Secure Origins had decreased from an average of 76 minutes, to an average of 23 minutes. This represented a reduction of border wait times of an average of between twenty-six and thirty-three percent for conveyances carrying freight across the international boundary. This information was gleaned from a sample size of 174 tracked trucks per day making a total of 350 shipments.The positive implications of the results of the pilot project are palpable, given the goals of both the public and private sector participants. On the private side of the ledger, shorter bridge transit times mean that:• Companies will be better able to control inventories and meet their clients’ production schedules• Because goods are in transit for shorter periods of time, the risk of damage or degradation (in the case of perishables, in particular) will be diminished.• Costs at job sites will remain stable or, even, decrease. When freight moves freely, costs of warehousing and storage are reduced.• Stress on company infrastructure (loading docks and freight staging areas) will be alleviated, thereby slowing or eliminating the need to invest monetary resources in its expansion.• Workers’ productivity will not be lessened as a result of delays and bottlenecks in the supply chain.The public sector will experience gains in a number of ways, as well. Among these are:• A reduction in the time that trucks spend idling, while waiting to cross the international boundary. This will lessen vehicular emissions, and have an overall positive impact on the region’s ambient air quality.• An even flow of traffic will reduce the stress on bridge infrastructure and save financial resources that would otherwise be spent in maintenance and repair.• A steady movement of international bridge crossing traffic will result in the same on regional roadways, particularly at peak transit times.• The clearing of traffic from neighborhoods tangential to and in proximity to international bridges. This will mean an improved quality of life for residents.• A more expeditious movement of cargo through congested and more densely populated areas.Although the mission, goals and objectives of the City of El Paso, in the public sector, and that of a private business party to the PPP, Secure Origins, are fundamentally different, pooling resources through “Project 21″ enabled them to begin to develop practical solutions to the sets of problems that pose challenges to each entity. If planned and executed well, the end result of a public private partnership project is the creation of a self-sustaining entity that performs its function and offers its services in a competitive marketplace, thereby eradicating the need for the expenditure of taxpayer dollars.At the end of the pilot program, Secure Origins was tracking 174 trucks per day. The owners of these vehicles paid a fee per truck to have them monitored. Paying for end-to-end visibility of supply chain shipments, as well as increasing the security and speed of commercial conveyances proved to be worth the expenditure. As a result of the benefits that local shippers have derived from the service, the number of trucks tracked by Secure Origins on a daily basis has risen to more than 300. One of the main economic benefits on the firm level has been greater efficiency in the use of capital equipment. Trucks that were limited to two deliveries per day due to border congestion are now a capable of moving cargo across the international boundaries three times over the same number of hours. From a macro-economic perspective, what started as a public-private initiative is now a purely private sector endeavor. As such, it brings benefits to the community at large, area business interests and its employees. Economic inefficiencies that have congestion and slow moving traffic over the international bridge between the United States and Mexico as their root cause, are in the process of being diminished. This reduction will enable all parties involved in this commerce to spend less money on non-productive activities and issues, and increase investment in productive ones.

Why Hillary Clinton’s Not Moving into the White House in 2009 – or Ever

We don’t know who will take the oath of office as President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2009, but it will not be Hillary Clinton.Sen. Clinton may well get the Democrats’ nomination in 2008. But she will not be elected president.Not because she is a woman. Not because she is “controversial,” hated in some circles, or for any of the other reasons trotted out against her.Instead, she will not be elected because of where she lives, and because of her job.By seeking the White House, Clinton is battling two important patterns in American political life. Going against one of those trends would be amazing. Breaking both of them is, politically speaking, impossible.The first trend she’ll be bucking up against is that Americans don’t elect presidents from New York. Or Illinois, her state of birth. Instead we elect presidents from the South or the West.
The last time we elected a president from an area other than the South and West was 1960: John Kennedy, from Massachusetts.In 1964, we elected Lyndon Johnson of Texas. In 1968 and 1972, Richard Nixon of California. In 1976, Jimmy Carter of Georgia. In 1980 and 1984, Ronald Reagan of California.In 1988, George Bush of Texas. In 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton of Arkansas. And now we have George W. Bush of Texas.It’s an intriguing historical question about what might have happened if Clinton had waited two years, and returned to Arkansas, where she lived for a number of years, and run for governor there in the 2002 election. Had she won the governor’s seat in Little Rock, I suspect that the odds of her winning presidency in 2008 would be far greater.Then there’s the other problem — a far bigger, longer-lasting one in historical terms — is that we seldom elect senators to the White House.The last time we did was, again, 1960. President Johnson was, of course, a longstanding senator. But he was elected as a sitting president, and had served three years as vice-president before becoming president in 1963.Before John Kennedy’s election, we have to go all the way back to 1888 to see a senator elected president: Benjamin Harrison.Senators look presidential. Some of them even sound presidential. And by all logic, they ought to be qualified. But there is something very deep in the American electorate that believes that the Senate is not the place to learn to be president.Barring some accident, Sen. Clinton will be re-elected to the senate by a landslide this fall. But instead of serving two years, and heading to the White House, she will instead serve out her term, ending in 2013. She will return to the Senate in 2009, chastened after a lost presidential bid.Pundits will argue that she lost because America won’t vote for a woman in the White House. But that’s not the problem. The issue is that Democrats are looking for a presidential candidate in the wrong place.Instead of the Senate, they need to look to governors from the South or West: say, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Mike Easley of North Carolina, Christine Gregoire of Washington, or Tim Kaine of Virginia.Someday another president will be elected from the Northeast. And someday, another senator will be elected president. But not in 2008. And not Hillary Clinton.

Is $150 a Day Easy to Make? (This May Change Your Mind)

How difficult is it to earn $150 a day online? Do I need years of practice or preparation? What is the best strategy? What sort of offer converts best? Something I should sell of my own… or is it easier to find a good affiliate product or JV promotion? Do I need a blog, subscribers and a community of fans and followers to break the $150 a day mark? Or is all of this a whole lot more simple than I’m making it out to be?Any of these questions sound familiar? If you are anything like the hundreds of thousands of people who are just getting started online, and would love to earn $1000 + per week right now, this article was written with YOU in mind! Curious to know more? Continue reading as we take a closer look below.Filed Under: The easiest way to get to $150 a day without gimmicks or gurusI’m going to make this exceedingly simple for you. I’m also going to challenge you to NOT trust what I say, but to rather test what I suggest.The key to earning ANY reasonable income goal (of which $150 a day certainly is) is to make it about the MATH, and not the marketing. Everyone reading this understands basic math. And truthfully, that is ALL you need to earn a great living doing work you love.Consider this:There are OVER 100 offers on CJ.com (one of the largest affiliate networks) that have an EPC of 100 or above, as I write this in April of 2013.That means that you can literally pick 100 offers that will pay you, if you are “average”, about 100 for every 100 visitors you refer to them.Now, of course that is an average… but it’s a published metric, of the average earnings, on typical conversions, that those vendors pay normal affiliates for their traffic.You don’t have to worry about marketing… or selling those visitors.Instead, you only need to drive the traffic, and let THEM handle the conversion.Your job is math.Their job is marketing. (or in this case, selling)For example, you could write articles like this one, in the niche YOU love, and refer your readers to visit the offer at the conclusion of the article, with your ID intact. (using a root level redirection, for example)Or you could use that same root level re-direction to refer readers from a forum in the niche you are active in.Or, you could use blog comments.Or guest posting on blogs.Or create your own blog.Or create a content community using around a topic that you love… and use conventional creatives (ads) to refer a small percentage of your readers.It matters not.The MATH is what matters.An offer with an EPC of $150 only requires you send 100 visitors a day to have a reasonable shot of getting your goal in under a week (your results may vary of course… but as long as you are picking the right offers as illustrated above, and creating quality content, you will get there sooner or later, I promise!)

5 Steps to Becoming a Millionaire

In the year 2002, there were 17.1 million Millionaires in the U.S. By 2013, the number of millionaires will triple due to inheritance. For the rest of you, becoming a millionaire is within reach if you apply a 5 step plan involving the following areas:1. Health2. Spending3. Savings4. Investing5. CareerHealthTake care of yourself. If your health is no good, you are not going to enjoy the rewards of a solid financial plan. Eat right, exercise daily, and discipline yourself. The most successful investors are those people who have the best discipline to stay with the program.SpendingIt’s true, a person will always live up to the amount of income they earn. If you make the money, you are apt to find a place to spend it. The key to successfully saving is to spend less than you make and to also spend more money in areas that will actually preserve wealth.SavingsA disciplined approach to saving reaps rewards in the future. While saving early in your career, allocate a larger percentage of your savings to stocks. A 35 year old with $10,000 and saving $500 a month will become a millionaire by age 56 if the money invested returns 15% per annum. If the investment rate of return falls to 10% per annum, the millionaire age is moved to 63 years old.InvestingFocus on an investment portfolio that minimizes your fees and maximizes your returns. If you are not sure about the types of investments, consider low cost index funds such as the S&P 500 or Russell 5000.CareerNo matter how much you position yourself, your career will dictate how quickly you reach the millionaire plateau. You have to move above and beyond your job description; Excel in your performance; Make yourself invaluable to the organization. Align your goals and focus on efforts that make you a valuable employee. You want those merit raises. They will add up.Check out the Groco Millionaire Calculator to determine how much you need to put away to enter the millionaire class: http://www.groco.com

HOA Contractors That Embrace Technology Will Succeed

As a full service association management company, we are always assisting our communities with obtaining quality contractors, and service providers for our association communities. We are constantly involved with reviewing repairs specs, obtaining contractor bids, and overall oversight all major maintenance or building projects.Association management has evolved tremendously with technology over the last 10 years. We constantly have to keep our HOA managers and staff equipped with technology that will both improve our efficiency as a company, and always with the goal to improve communication between our communities, our management office, and all outside vendors.We have spotted a very noticeable trend over the years with our communities and the contractors being selected. The companies that were consistently winning bids on big building projects and being chosen for repair and re-construction jobs all had one big similarity: They all were actively using several forms of newer technology.What’s the connection you ask? Its simple: COMMUNICATION. When contractors are able to share their knowledge and expertise on their trade effectively with both the association manager and the HOA board members, it makes everyone’s life easier. Contractors are not depending on the HOA management company to translate their estimates and ideas, and the HOA board members are ensured that their community is going to receive what they want, and what they paid for.We wanted to review some technology basics that all HOA contractors should be familiar with. Below they are listed in order of necessity for effective and time efficient communication.Cell PhoneYou would think that us being in 2013 that this would go with without saying, but we’re still saying it. We still occasionally run into a contractor that still only uses a land line for their business calls. That tends to give off a “half-interested” kind of vibe to HOA management companies calling to get bids. Also, having a cell phone, or smart phone also means that you have to answer it and return calls as well. Contractors that pick up their phone on the first call, or immediately return calls have a much higher chance of securing jobs.EmailThis is another very obvious “must” nowadays. You can go dozens of places online and get a free email address for your business. HOA and condo communities don’t want just a verbal bid over the phone. That works in some cases, with familiar contractors, but doesn’t work on medium to large size projects. Associations and the management companies want bids, specs, and final prices to be in writing, to help protect both parties. No one wants to get in any kind of he said / she said argument about dollar amounts and project materialsPhotos / VideoPhotos and videos tend to go hand in hand with smart phones or cell phones mentioned earlier. Practically every phone made these days, have these capabilities. If you are like me (visual right brained) then being able to see things in photos or video form is an absolute must. HOA board members come from all walks of life, and not necessarily familiar with construction or engineering techniques. Being able to show them visually an issue, or bring a project to life with photos and video, puts a whole new perspective on things.WebsiteA website isn’t necessarily a must, but we really do recommend it. There are the obvious reasons like, getting noticed online, and having a good search engine ranking in your area. There are also the not so obvious reasons like, looking for appropriate credentials (insurance contractor’s license number), gathering references, or looking for a project portfolio or similar preformed work. It is so much easier to convey all this information if its on a nice, organized website. So if you are a HOA contractor, and you don’t want to totally rely on your community association relationships for projects, investing some time or money in your online presence would be great idea.Video CallsThis is our favorite new technology to use with our association contractors. What if you could tour a property and review several maintenance issues without having to physically be on site with the contractor? Our HOA management team uses this tool constantly. Our managers get to feel like they are physically walking the grounds (which is always the best option if available) while still being able to log some office time. It really does help when it comes to scheduling and moving forward with projects. As cell phone carriers increase available data plans and network speeds, this option will only get easier to use.Bid / Work order systemsOnline bid and maintenance work-order systems are starting to find their way into everyday use with many property management type businesses. These systems basically take all the prior mentioned technology elements (cell phone, email, photos, videos) and combines them into one and secure location online. These systems help organize all of your community projects into one location for board members and association managers. These systems will also allow your contractors to generate many more leads from other communities and other similar property managers as well.HOA and Condo communities rely on quality contractors to help build, maintain, and repair their communities. Use of great every-day technology, helps bridge the gap between HOA communities, their management partners, and the skilled contractors and service providers. We will continue to encourage our HOA contractors to not be afraid of technology, but rather embrace it.

Ten Tips On Becoming a Tax Preparer and Earning Big While Working P/T

1. Gain new professional and marketable skills while working at your own pace. – Every year there is a noticeable shortage of qualified Tax professionals. All 4 of the major Tax service Franchises (H & R Block, Jackson Hewlett, Liberty Tax, and Instant Tax) set up tax classes to increase the possibility of having enough tax professionals to work in their Franchises. Unfortunately, having taught these basic tax classes, the student drop out rate is high. It is serious pressure to work a full time job, learn tax law/codes, go to school two nights a week, do your homework, and prepare for Thanksgiving in the middle of the Tax Class Schedule. Online Tax School could be a life saver, especially if you have children.Learning in a Franchise Store’s tax classes will help you to pass the RTRP Exam. All tax preparers who are paid, must pass this Exam by December 31, 2013 in order to do taxes for a fee. This does NOT apply if you are working under a supervisor, manager or professional who take responsibility for all tax returns prepared by you. See the irs.gov site for details on these latest rules and regulations.2. You can train for basic tax classes using one of the major Franchise Stores who do millions of tax returns for taxpayers. These classes usually start in the 3rd and 4th quarter of the year.3. Or, you can use an Online or home study course provided to the State of California tax professionals to help you prepare for the RTRP Exam. Once you pass the Exam you will be qualified to work for one of the major Temporary Accounting Agencies, such as AccountTemp or Accountants, Inc or Robert Half, International or a CPA or a Major Bookkeeping Company or, yourself. Being able to take your time and learn at your own pace is extremely important when it can mean the difference of $10 per hour and $28 to $35.00 per hour4. When you enroll in an Online Tax class, you don’t have to deal with class room dynamics, you just do your course work, take your test on line, email your teacher if you have a question and receive your certificate and follow through with your State’s requirements for Tax Professionals and of course register with IRS. No Problem, No fuss. All the information is provided in the class.5. Find the right learning program for you. Determine if you learn from the right side or the left side of your brain, and enroll into training based on how you learn. Of course the Franchist Tax Store training is usually available once a year, and you only have to pay for your books.6. Completion of the IRS’s new requirements, will enable you to start your own tax business. You can earn up to $50 per hour and in most cases much more when you go on to become an Enrolled Agent.7. Online Tax Schools can be found by using keywords in the Search Engines. The same goes for finding good training courses to help you prepare for the RTRP Exam.8. Tax School won’t make you rich, but it will give you options, a foundation for a new career and around $8,500 to $17,500 more income per year working part-time. The Big Boys, as I call them often pay their employees Bonus based upon the revenue after the Tax Season ends, plus they get a base hourly wage.9. Enrolling and completing tax school will put you in the line up for what I call the “Half-Year Tax Professionals” They do taxes 5 or 6 months out of the year and spend the other half of the year traveling. How do I know? I meet them at the IRS Tax Professional Forum which is usually held in large cities such as Las Vegas! They adjust their travel schedules to accommodate and attend the IRS conventions; after all, you have to act like you work all year! This select group of people is the envy of all of the new tax professionals. However, you should know these Tax Professionals work hard and smart. They rarely loose a client, they send birthday cards to clients and gift certificates for special occasions and quarterly tax newsletters. They spend years building their client base while charging $150 to $200 (sometimes more) per tax return. They tend to stay out of their client’s personal lives and they live modestly while traveling to different parts of the world each year.10. Once you learn the basic tax codes and how to prepare a tax return, then you will be ready to take the IRS’s RTRP Exam. This exam will increase your hourly earning ability and also enable you to work for yourself. It is a good idea to work for another Tax Service before starting out on your own, this will give you a solid foundation and will increase your confidence level.

7 Tips to Help You Become the Best Boss You Can Be

No company would thrive without a manager with good leadership skills. How you lead will help mold employees to become better, which is why it is crucial to become the best boss you can be. By improving how you lead, you are improving your employee output. Hence, before you attempt to improve the people you lead, you should first work on improving yourself.Here’s how you can become a better leader:1. Trust Your PeopleIt is important for you to trust your people. Trust them enough to accomplish their jobs without you breathing down their necks. Avoid micromanaging because doing so indicates that you don’t trust your employees.2. Help others Reach SuccessHelping others reach success, especially when they deserve it shows great leadership skills. Remember, if your people can achieve their own career goals, then you will do well too.3. Give Credit when it is DueNever take credit for someone else’s work. This will not do you good, and it won’t help with your leadership at all. Sure, you’ll get the praise of the higher-ups, but you’ll lose the trust of those working under you. Eventually, your team will lose the desire to work hard, because they know they won’t get credit for their work anyway.4. Let Employees Choose their own TechniquesIt’s okay to set the goals, but let your employees decide how they will reach a particular goal. Doing so will give them a sense of empowerment and motivation, making them unstoppable and achieving great output. Leadership skills aren’t limited to showing others where to go, it also includes helping others find their own way.5. Have less MeetingsMeeting the staff too often doesn’t always get things done. Consider holding fewer meetings, but make them more efficient and focused. Discuss what needs to be accomplished and how. Sticking to an agenda all throughout will help make these meetings more useful for everyone.6. Commend those who Fail and Reward those who are InnovativeEncourage your people to try something new. Mistakes are normal. Think of mistakes as opportunities that will help employees learn and move forward. This will help you hone brave and creative employees who will look forward to going to work.7. Be all about Your PeopleIt is important that your people know that aside from trusting them, you also have their backs and care for them outside of the job. This means understanding their priorities, helping them finish their education, or other similar things. Having great leadership skills also include the ability to reach out to others even outside of work.Even if you think that you are a terrible manager, there are ways to improve how you are and become the best boss you can be. The first step is realizing that you want to change and gain the leadership skills that will help you become good at what you do. Remember that changing your ways will not only be good for yourself and for your people, it will be good for the entire organization. If you want to get the best output from your employees, then you need to be the best that you can be.© 2013 Incedo Group, LLC