Jun 122015
 
Condemned to slow growth?

June marks the end of the sixth year since the Great Recession passed into history. At 18 months, it was the lengthiest recession since World War II, surpassing the 16 months of the other notably long-lived  post-war recessions, ended in March 1975 and November 1982. For duation, of course, the [continue reading . . . ]

May 132015
 
Rocking on the West Coast

One little-noticed consequence of the sharp fall in oil prices (see chart): The oil-and-gas states have been knocked out of the top spots when it comes to various measures of economic performance. West Coast states, where technology and exports rather than hydrocarbons are key drivers, are moving up the ladder. [continue reading . . . ]

May 102015
 
Good jobs report, but . . .

Friday’s jobs report showed the U.S. headline unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4%, the lowest since mid-2008. Good for us, but hold the applause. The underemployment rate, including those working part time involuntarily, remains relatively high (10.8%) for this stage of the recovery. It has been nearly six years since [continue reading . . . ]

Mar 182015
 
Managed depression

Why are interest rates so low? The best answer, says Martin Wolf, principal economics columnist of the Financial Times, is that the globe’s advanced economies remain in a “managed depression.” This is the phenomenon that former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has in mind when he writes and speaks about [continue reading . . . ]

Mar 092015
 

Is China done? Is the 66-year-old dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) about to end? “Predicting the demise of authoritarian regimes is a risky business,” writes old China hand Dr. David Shambaugh in a not-to-be-missed essay (subscription required, or use your library card) in the Wall Street Journal March [continue reading . . . ]

Feb 232015
 

Overview bullet points ahead of my economic-update presentations last week to the Northwest Wall & Ceiling Bureau (slides here), a trade association, and the Economic Development Association of Skagit County (slides), perhaps Washington’s most successful economic development association: Listen to the music of the global bond markets. The tune they [continue reading . . . ]

Feb 122015
 
Got your ticket yet?

Headed for Europe soon? Your timing couldn’t be better. The dollar is up almost 15% against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners in six months, and almost 29% since July 2011. The currencies in question are the euro, the Canadian dollar, the Japanese yen, the United Kingdom pound, the [continue reading . . . ]

Dec 142014
 
Updated Amazon.com slides

Reader Richard D. Shay kindly commented on my “excellent detective work” in turning up detail on Amazon’s meteoric growth. Thank you. In preparation for a recent presentation, I updated four Amazon.com charts. As I noted here, Amazon won’t disclose its Seattle-area employment. I see its footprints in data compiled by [continue reading . . . ]

Dec 122014
 
Bright lights, big city

The economy of the Seattle area seems as strong as it has been in my 40 years covering the economy as a financial journalist. Amazon’s voracious demand for office space is remaking downtown Seattle and South Lake Union. The pace is breathtaking, and shows no signs of abating. The company [continue reading . . . ]