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Jon Talton

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

February 3, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Washington on Washington: Guess who’s getting shafted in infrastructure funding

Top of the News: Washington state is one of the biggest losers in federal infrastructure spending, according to the Business Insider. We get $167.96 per person, compared with Alaska at $1,100 per person.

Other big losers include Virginia, Colorado, California, Ohio, Tennessee, Arizona, Michigan, Florida and North Carolina. It’s telling that most of these states are urbanized with urban needs, many that have been left undone for years. Meanwhile, rural places such as Wyoming are making out.

If the numbers hold, Washington especially stands to lose, considering the need to replace the 520 bridge and drill the deep-bore tunnel. The Cascadia region could also have been a prime corridor for real high-speed rail, rather than the (welcome but hardly enough) improvements to standard rail that have been announced. Infrastructure money could also help with transportation to help Puget Sound ports, such as better connections with eastern Washington and refitting the Stampede Pass tunnels to accommodate double-stack trains.

The Midweek Briefing: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, also former Washington governor, speaks before the National Press Club on Thursday. His topic: “Back to Basics: A Blueprint for Exports-Driven Job Growth” Wonder if one of those basics is dealing with China’s currency manipulation and increasing protectionism?

— Sickening Irony Dept.: JPMorgan Chase has set out $9.3 billion in bonuses. The bank paid $1.9 billion for the assets of Washington Mutual.

— Big cuts in the telecom and retail sectors drove January announced job cuts to 71,482, a five-month high, according to Challenger Gray & Christmas. Even so, last month’s total was 70 percent lower than the 241,749 planned job cuts from January 2009. ADP reports the net loss for the month at 22,000, the “best” showing since early ’08.

— Slate’s Daniel Gross looks at why investment banks became so dangerous and presents some interesting findings. A big reason: The transformation of investment banks from private partnerships into public companies.

— Yale has released its 2010 Environmental Performance Index. Top scores go to Iceland, Switzerland, Cosa Rica and Sweden. Scandinavian liberals all! USA! USA! comes in at No. 61. The study ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators of environmental public health and ecosystem vitality.

— Maybe the U.S. will finally join the advanced world with high-speed rail. Maybe. Wired makes the essential point that HSR must be part of a holistic approach involving airlines. In Europe the fast trains have taken the place of many short-hop flights, easing congestion.

— In Davos, our friend Nouriel Roubini rained on the elite parade, seeing “a very dismal” U.S. expansion. The economist who called the crisis long in advance told Bloomberg, “I think we are in trouble,” and “It’s going to feel like a recession even if technically we’re not going to be in a recession.”

Today’s Econ Haiku:

How fast they can fall

Toyota beat out GM

Now the brakes are on

Comments | More in Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Transportation, Urban issues


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