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Jon Talton

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

January 15, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Regional changes and expectations

At the enterpriseSeattle economic forecast event last week the group unveiled a name change. It is now the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County. The URL, which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue: http://edc-seaking.org Maybe too many potential relocation pros were Goog…, woops, Binging “Enterprise Seattle” and getting car rental locations. In any event, the public-private partnership was founded in 1971 and, according to its Web site, “we provide one-on-one, confidential consulting services, free-of-charge, to individual businesses seeking to establish, expand or relocate to Seattle and King County.” Make a note of the change.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce held its 2013 economic forecast breakfast last week, too. University of Puget Sound economists Bruce Mann and Doug Goodman predicted that the economy would grow by a slow-to-middling 2.8 percent. The big drivers: Military, Boeing and healthcare.

Unfortunately, the employment situation is expected to be tighter. Jobs should increase 1.8 percent, less than the 2.1 percent growth in 2012. The best news is an expected 7.6 percent rise in housing sales, vs. 5.8 percent last year. Pierce County was one of the worst-hit areas in the region by the housing collapse. You can download the entire report here.

Microsoft shares have declined close to a 52-week low and some analysts are pessimistic. But Bill Maurer on Seeking Alpha argues that it’s a mistake to count Microsoft out:

You still get a 3.43 percent dividend yield and an extremely reasonable valuation. The company is producing a huge amount of cash, allowing it to spend a billion dollars a quarter on stock buybacks. Windows 8 and Surface may be off to a slow start, but that doesn’t mean they are doomed. It hasn’t even been three months yet, and we are due for an eventual PC rebound. Microsoft still has plenty of other businesses, like the industry leading Xbox gaming console. Sometimes, when expectations are at their lowest, it’s the best time to buy.

And Don’t Miss: No jokes, please. Starbucks says Blonde is catching on || BusinessWeek

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Are they so extreme

They’d entertain a default?

Bet the House on it

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