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Jon Talton

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

January 7, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Boeing’s drop in orders shows recessions effects still linger

Top of the News: The great recession may be only beginning to be felt by airplane makers. Although Airbus hasn’t reported results yet, Boeing says it received just 142 commercial airplane orders last year. That compares with 662 in 2008 and 1,417 orders in 2007.

The business is notoriously cyclical and the airlines are in constant financial trouble, despite all manner of overt and hidden federal subsidies, as well as beneficial treatment in bankruptcy court. Still, the huge debt overhang from the credit bubble of the 2000s makes predicting the course of new orders particularly difficult.

For good-news seekers, Boeing deliveries at 481 matched expectations and were 29 percent ahead of the previous year. And orders for the new 787 remain strong. But given the weak worldwide recovery and airline demand already satisfied by previous orders, it may be too early to say Boeing’s layoffs are over.

The Back Story: Here’s the kind of news that fuels the nihilistic anger of the Tea Party bunch. Bloomberg reports that Tim Geithner, when he was president of the New York Fed, kept from the public a disclosure that AIG was using its government bailout money to pay bailed-out banks 100-cents-on-the-dollar for their risky swindles. There’s a run-on sentence that would fuel the anger of Strunk and White, but you get the point.

Geithner, of course, is now the Treasury Secretary. We know he’s a Wall Street guy, but the news just keeps getting worse. And people are only worried about a second Bernanke term? The secrecy Geithner employed, of course, was also committed by the Fed in its mysterious “lending facilities.” At the end of the day, the big players that brought on the disaster were pretty much made whole — even profited — while the rest of us face a reckoning that may last for decades.

The complexity of the swindles and the seeming complicity of the government fuels conspiracy theories. The lack of major prosecutions or hard-hitting hearings on the crash and its causes, much less regulatory reform, makes even the most rational observer wonder.

As the character says in The Wire, “Nicely done.”

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Retail sales: cha-ching!

But that compares with ’08.

Green shoots on discount

Comments | More in Aerospace/Boeing, Bailout

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