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Jon Talton

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

September 2, 2009 at 9:56 AM

Georgetown Pharmacy loss points to a deeper illness for city

Top of the News: Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood is losing a beloved fixture as Jack Cordova closes the Georgetown Pharmacy. He’s turning 80 and couldn’t find a younger person who would take the business on.

This is more than a sad story, well-told by reporter Mark Rahner. It points to an ongoing erosion of Seattle’s small, home-owned, neighborhood retailers. Not only do they provide the city with a unique treasure that has been lost in most of malled-up, chain-stored, big-box America, but the owners tend to be good neighborhood stewards and leaders.

Much is at work here, from generational change — who wants to run a small pharmacy when you can make much more elsewhere? — to the recession and the ongoing debate over the proper balance of regulation and taxes, to the unfair advantages of giant consolidated corporations. But I’d hate to see Seattle on the downslope to become, say, Tulsa on Puget Sound, with better restaurants. Maybe this is an issue for mayoral candidates to talk about besides the tunnel.

Midweek Briefing: Economists were caught by surprise — pleasantly, for a change — when Germany and France posted rebounds in growth for the second quarter. The 0.3 percent expansion in GDP was modest, but better than Germany’s drop of 3.5 percent and France’s 1.3 percent decline in the first quarter. Still, RGE Monitor comments, “signs of a sustained rebound in world trade volumes are still tentative.”

–Just to keep the conspiracy crowd happy, here it is. AOL’s Daily Finance site reported earlier this week that Boeing CEO Jim McNerney “is eager to move the company to China. Whether moving Boeing to China means shifting its headquarters from Chicago to Beijing is up in the air…” Ha, that’s punny. It points out $600 million in contracts with China suppliers. Of special interest is a supposed meeting at which McNerney said he’d like to design and build more future Boeing jets in China. And of course this is the world’s biggest market. Worry on.

–Today’s record settlement between the federal government and Pfizer over illegal advertising of drugs points to a deeper problem within Big Pharma. For years, the drug companies have been spending more on marketing and less on R&D; breakthrough drugs have been fewer but Wall Street’s profit demands have risen. The best primer on this problem is Maggie Mahar’s Money Driven Medicine: The Reason Health Care Costs So Much.

–Worker productivity rose in the second quarter at its fastest rate in six years. In the past, that would be a good thing. But for the past eight years, less of productivity’s gains have gone to workers than in the post-World War II era (and more to CEO salaries and Wall Street). It’s another damper on consumer spending and living standards, especially now that the credit-card binge is over.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Recession’s over?

I’d celebrate but my job

Is over as well

Comments | More in Consumer spending, Entrepreneurship, Retail

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