The Stimulus Trade


Transportation infrastructure is a major part of the new stimulus package. And Fast Money spoke to the man dolling out all that cash!

He’s not quite Santa Claus but if you’ve got a bridge that needs fixing, he’s close. We’re talking about U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

And his giant red sack of gifts just increased by $46 billion. According to published reports, the new stimulus package involves about about $46 billion for transportation infrastructure, including up to $30 billion for highways, $12 billion for transit, $3.1 billion for passenger rail and $3 billion for airports.

How long will it take the stimulus to work? Apparently, not long. Caterpillar has already said it will rehire some of the thousands of workers it has laid off in recent weeks if and when Congress passes the economic stimulus bill. "In order to build roads you have to have good equipment and part of that is having Caterpillar equipment," says LaHood on Fast Money.

So what’s next?

Secretary LaHood tells Fast Money he expects events to happen quickly. “We will have the money out the door in 120 days and companies will have to spend the money putting people to work in good paying jobs.”

Specifically, the money will flow into projects at the state level. "Our feeling is the best way to get this money out is through state departments of transportation," LaHood says. "The departments, which operate under their respective state governors, have the necessary savvy to move quickly on the so-called shovel-ready projects envisioned by President Barack Obama as a way of creating jobs quickly," he adds.

Meanwhile some pundits have voiced concern about oversight fearing that the money could be squandered. However, LaHood tells Fast Money that accountability is one of his highest priorities and that his Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) team will be monitoring all aspects of the recovery funding closely.

LaHood even tells us there will be a webpage on the White House website that will have great detail about how the money is being spent.

Also he says, they will not be exempt from environmental checks and other regulations. "These projects are going to be funded by the book, he says.

You can see our entire interview with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in the Word On The Street video above.

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Trader disclosure: On Feb. 12th, 2008, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders; Najarian Owns (CAT) Call Spread, (ENER) Call Spread, (EEM) Call Spread, (GDX) Call Spread, (GLD) Call Spread; Najarian Owns (CHK) Put Spread; Najarian Owns (FCX) & (FCX) Calls; Najarian Owns (GS) Calls; Najarian Owns (MSFT) & (MSFT) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MS) & (MS) Short Calls; Najarian Owns (MOS) Call Spread; Adami Owns (AGU), (BTU), (C), (GS), (INTC), (MSFT), (NUE); Finerman's Firm Owns (DNA) & (DNA) Call Spread; Finerman's Firm Owns (MSFT), (UNH); Finerman's Firm Is Short (IYR), (IJR), (IWM), (MDY), (SPY), (COF), (USO), (BBT); Macke Owns (RIMM), (AAPL), (MS), (TM), (SDS) with wires