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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

June 8, 2009 at 10:10 AM

Fight for Russell Investments weakens regional competitiveness

Top of the News: While Wall Street awaits the federal government’s report on new capital requirements for the big banks, the Puget Sound watches a quieter drama: the contest for Russell Investments, detailed in a must-read story by the Times’ Jim Brunner.

Seattle won’t admit it is pursuing this corporate crown jewel of Tacoma, but it would be natural considering the losses of Washington Mutual and Safeco. Russell’s allegiance to Tacoma has frayed in recent years as it became a subsidiary of a Milwaukee firm. It might even decide on the merits that downtown Seattle would be a more appealing location.

Yet competition among cities in this mega-metro area is unhealthy.

Around the country, metros have seen cities and suburbs fight over an economic pie instead of working to expand it. The result is balkanization and bitter in-fighting, often hollowing out center cities as employers decamp for suburban office “parks.” The real competition is between American metros and their counterparts in Europe and Asia.

The Back Story: Seattle ranked No. 2 behind Silicon Valley among America’s leading technology centers, according to a new report from the Milken Institute.

The report uses 2007 data, showing the metro area with 226,000 high-tech jobs generating more than $22 billion in wages. Benchmarked against a similar report in 2003, Seattle actually moved up one notch. It showed the metro’s diverse strength heading into the recession. It probably also gives us an advantage coming out — but the real yardstick will be against international rivals, not just those in the U.S.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Mickey D’s sales soar

With McCafe espressos

No jolt on Wall Street

Check out the winner of last week’s Econ Haiku contest.

Comments | More in Tech economy

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