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Jon Talton

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

December 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

The year in Seattle, Part 2

Continuing with the top stories from 2012:

6. Residential real estate finally hit bottom and began a recovery of sorts. It won’t be like the mid-2000s, but deals are hard to find in the city of Seattle and new construction is making a tentative rebound. Still, many homeowners are underwater on their mortgages and construction employment lags.

7. On the lam, fugitive real-estate baron Michael Mastro and his wife, Linda, were caught in France. A federal grand jury in Seattle has indicted them on 43 counts of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. In the meantime, French authorities have sternly ordered them to wear tracking devices as they wander the enchanting Alpine village of Annecy. Mastro’s biggest mistake was that he wasn’t running a big bank.

8. The proposed Sonics arena in Sodo, paid for by hedge-fund guy Chris Hansen and the public, emerged, weathered controversy and is moving ahead. Hansen still has to find NBA and NHL teams to inhabit the place and critics remain. Meanwhile, SoDo is gentrifying anyway with other projects. The question remains whether this can co-exist with an industrial district and the port.

9. Democrat Jay Inslee was elected governor and two Democratic state senators crossed over to give Republicans control of the upper chamber. Can anything get done, particularly on funding infrastructure and education to remain competitive? Tax revenues are still struggling to recover from the recession and Washingtonians refuse to raise taxes. This isn’t a blue state. Cut off Seattle and environs and it would be Idaho — or Arizona.

10. The Occupy “movement” staged protests, with some violence and vandalism, in downtown Seattle on May Day. The proletariat yawned and the Occupy camp out faded away. Occupy Wall Street proved to be virtually meaningless, resulting in no elections of progressives as the Tea Party achieved in 2012, no laws against corporate evil-doers, no criminal prosecutions against banksters. It was left to Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” speech to remind a majority of presidential voters about the oligarchy that has performed a quiet coup.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

A boom or bubble?

Amazon’s real-estate deals

A cloudy forecast

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