Follow us:

Jon Talton

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

March 16, 2010 at 9:35 AM

While you were away: Economic issues that bite while we’re distracted by Tiger

The Great American Freak Show continues with all the media oxygen being sucked up by Tiger Woods and the estate of the late Michael Jackson. It’s almost as if certain interests didn’t want the American people paying attention to things that mattered.

Financial reform, to be sure, can’t compete with the Jersey Housewives. The proposal by Sen. Dodd, D-Financial Services, does include some kind of consumer protection agency — a plus. But no new Glass-Steagall, no meaningful derivative oversight, etc. etc. And regulators must regulate, after all, rather than have their heads in Ayn Rand novels.

Readers of this blog won’t be surprised by the New York Times story on $700 billion in risky junk bonds coming due in 2012. For all its pain, the Great Recession has largely failed to accomplish the one positive expected from downturns: to clean out imbalances and bad bets. Commercial real estate is another time bomb. More mortgages will reset. America remains far too over-leveraged to recover in a healthy way. This, of course, is nothing compared with the latest sex scandal.

Unemployment remains a dangerous toxin for America. The failure of the Obama administration on health care reform, as well as addressing carbon emissions, preparing for a high-cost energy future and dealing with the eroding middle class — while protecting the bankers — is setting up huge costs for the future. He’s had plenty of help from Republicans in this, whose policies did so much to cause the disaster. And of course the status quo has many politically powerful beneficiaries. Look away…nothing to see here…Tiger’s going to the Masters!

The Back Story: The Census Bureau has updated median household income for 2008. Washington comes in with $58,081 vs. the national average of $52,029. Other states: Oregon, $50,165; Idaho, $47,561. In the “low-tax, light regulation” states, we have Mississippi’s $37,818; Alabama’s $42,586, and South Carolina’s $44,695. All this was, of course, before the Great Recession really took us by the throat.

Meanwhile, it’s Washington Trade Week. The Port of Seattle is highlighting a different trade partner each today. For Tuesday, Oh, Canada! In 2009, $16.8 billion was exported by vessel out of Seattle.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Eighteen thousand bucks

Provokes legislative fuss

Millions in cuts? Yawn

Comments | More in Income/living standards, Jobs/Unemployment, Macro/Big picture

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►