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Jon Talton

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

November 16, 2009 at 10:20 AM

Obama in China: Not an opera, more of an awkward meeting with your banker

Top of the News: More than ever, expectations are low for President Obama’s trip to China. With China (and even the EU) pulling out of the great recession faster than America, and with China holding trillions in American debt, what is there to talk about?

Plenty, of course. And wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall if the president brings up China’s currency manipulation, intellectual property, protectionism — especially in sustainable energy — and its looming environmental crash. Instead, from reports I’ve read, he’s explaining to our Chinese lenders “in detail” how health care legislation would affect the budget deficit. That’s what happens when you’re the debtor. A new world order.

Better numbers from China don’t translate into a restart of the great American consumer engine. And Chinese policies help stifle American exports. West Coast ports are still suffering — although Seattle and Tacoma are not as vulnerable as the mega-port of LA-Long Beach. China and Asia are still buying Washington wheat. Still, Obama’s warning to Asia that it can’t count on American consumers as it has in the past may be the most important, and undercovered, aspect of this trip.

The Back Story: Microsoft’s Bing makes it to Advertising Age’s report on the year’s hottest brands and the brains behind them (in Bing’s case, Yusuf Mehdi). So how do you compete against Google?

“The good news,” Ad Age writes, “was that Microsoft research found an underlying ‘latent dissatisfaction with search.’ And so Microsoft began crafting its first phase of an estimated $100 million marketing blast for Bing, along with its agency JWT, which included a massive TV media blitz or ‘air cover,’ along with online display, search engine marketing, display, and direct response.”

Other successes include ZipCar, Virgin America, Tesla Motors, World of Goo and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Bernanke on rates:

‘Whatever it takes,’ says he.

The man’s high on low

Comments | More in Microsoft, Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Trade

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