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Jon Talton

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

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January 30, 2015 at 10:31 AM

Vote: Is Microsoft failing (again)?

The honeymoon is over for Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella. Quarterly earnings fell as the company’s traditional bread-and-butter cash machines faltered. Growth in cloud services was not enough to soothe investors, who have been driving share prices down amid a storm of doubt. It would be crass to call it karma. The hit pieces have…


Comments | More in Microsoft | Topics: Microsoft, Satya Nadella

January 28, 2015 at 10:10 AM

The Sea-Tac growth dilemma

I’m almost always in favor of public improvements, but plans for expanding Seattle-Tacoma International Airport present a quandary. On the one hand, returning here last week from the sparkling and friendly Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the nation’s 10th largest by passenger boardings, much of Sea-Tac looked like a dump by comparison. Also, Sea-Tac and…


Comments | More in Airlines | Topics: Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Sea-Tac

January 27, 2015 at 11:04 AM

Washington’s unusual unemployment trend

One month does not a trend make. But when the state preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.3 percent in December, it constituted an undeniable turning point. But to what? First the data. Washington’s Great Recession unemployment rate topped out at 10.2 percent in the first three months of 2010. (This was a better showing…


Comments | More in | Topics: Washington unemployment

January 23, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Vote: Are pro sports good for the economy

I’m in. But not everybody else is. One reader was outraged that taxpayer-funded buses have “Go Hawks!” on their destination boards. And it’s easy to paraphrase Gen. Smedley Butler’s comment about war: Pro sports are a racket. Rich owners, operating in monopoly leagues, get millions from the public to build lavish stadiums under threat of moving…


Comments | More in Sports business | Topics: Pro sports, Seahawks, Sonics

January 22, 2015 at 9:21 AM

Imagining Seattle in 2030

Much of the conversation lately has focused on how newcomers are changing Seattle (even if that has been the case for much of the city’s history). There are legitimate concerns about how fast population growth — combined with globalized hypercapitalism — will change the character and authenticity of the place. And impose big costs. I…


Comments | More in | Topics: Seattle growth, Seattle population

January 21, 2015 at 10:02 AM

Housing starts still seeking new normal

The quick briefing today is that  housing starts rose 4.4 percent in December. Separate out single-family houses and they increased 7.2 percent from the previous month. Both numbers show the market continues to recover. But here’s the context: In other words, these may be the best numbers since 2008, but the crash was already well…


Comments | More in Housing | Topics: Housing starts, Seattle housing

January 20, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Obama, inequality and taxes

Whatever President Obama proposes in tonight’s State of the Union address will go nowhere in the Republican-controlled Congress. But he will attempt to use the bully pulpit to acknowledge and, to some degree, propose a way out of the worst inequality since the Gilded Age. Two years of free community college can’t hurt. Falling educational attainment…


Comments | Topics: inequality, State of the Union speech

January 14, 2015 at 11:01 AM

If we wanted to worry about the economy…

NOTE TO READERS: This is the second in an occasional look at the factors driving volatility in the market this year. For the first installment, click here. Americans are an optimistic lot. Climate change? Hey, maybe it’s not real and if it is, we won’t be hurt! A completely destabilized Middle East? Hey, my gasoline…


Comments | More in Economy | Topics: Consumer spending, deflation, Oil prices

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