01 JUN 2012

Despite the poor jobs report today, the Seattle area is doing far better than the national average.


On a more sobering note, the state is doing worse than the national average on the broader measure of unemployment that includes marginally attached (no job search in 4 weeks), discouraged workers (no longer in the labor force, but have looked for work in the last 12 months) and those employed only part-time due to economic reasons. The State of Wash...

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31 MAY 2012

I spent a good portion of my career planning and executing business turnarounds in a large corporation. Almost all the businesses I worked on were formally profitable businesses that enjoyed leadership positions in their industry. Why were these once shining stars in need of a turnaround you ask. Because someone that was entrusted to lead the business decided to make themself look good and cut costs to improve earnings at the expense of the long term viability of the business. Sometimes this wou...

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29 MAY 2012

The Washington Roundtable has given the state its 2nd report card on the business environment and keeping Washington competitive. The benchmarks are all graded relative to all other states.

On the good side, top 10 results in Private Sector Job Growth and Patents Granted. Education, Infrastructure, Commute Time, Tax Burden, Unemployment Insurance and Worker Compensation Payouts may require summer school.

Take a look at the reports below.

Benchmarks for a Better Washington -...

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25 MAY 2012

How much do you know about the economy here in Issaquah? Do you have any idea about how we compare to our neighbors in Bellevue, Sammamish, Renton and Redmond? Here are a couple of economic factoids on Issaquah from the 2010 Economic Census:

  • Issaquah has the highest percentage of children under 5 years old
  • Retail sales per capita are at least 3 times that of neighboring cities
  • Issaquah has the highest percentage of females - they've evidently been very busy the last 5 years
  • The average c...

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24 MAY 2012

Meadow Creek's Audrey Slade, Director of Operations and Chair of the Young Issaquah Professionals group at the Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce, is making her mark on Issaquah. A recent arrival to northwest from farthest reaches of the northeast, Maine, Audrey is already a presence to be reckonned with.

Audrey has been instrumental in introducing cash mobs to the local economy. A variant of crowd funding, cash mobs entail rallying people to a local business to have a good time and spend s...

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23 MAY 2012

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had some stiff criticism for the Seattle Public Schools. Instead of defending itself, I hope the School Board takes it to heart and makes some changes. A solid educational system is essential to produce the employees of tomorrow. The Seattle economy is dependent upon aerospace, software and increasingly biotech. The last time I checked, these industries required a well educated/trained workforce. The economic vitality of the region is at the mercy of Seattle Public S...

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22 MAY 2012

The National Assoication for Business Economics reported that the economy keeps chugging along yesterday with some modestly improved forecasts for jobs growth, housing start and auto sales. It looks like 2013 when things will begin to look like they're getting back to normal. This is consistent with my experience yesterday having dinner with Lee Ruttenberg, Chief Financial Officer of American Mobile Power Systems. Our waitress at the Rock Bottom Brewery was a recent grad of Western Washington...

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20 APR 2011

For over thirty years now I've made my career in the private sector. Working both for a large corporation and owning my own business. I've been through more economic cycles than I care to think about and have been given marching orders to cut cost with each one. Following my corporate career, I was quite convinced I knew the routine and understood the decision making process to effectively manage a business while reducing cost. I have, however, come to doubt my expertise in this area as I co...

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27 FEB 2011

The scenes from the state house in Madison, Wisconsin look eerily like those from Cairo and Tripoli.  Are they both representative of the common man rising up against dictatorial leaders?  I don't think so.  In Madison, or as we called it when I lived in Wisconsin, the People's Republic of Madison, I see a bunch of public employees trying to use the power of the mob to protect their own wallets and pocketbooks at the expense of the common people.  Public employees have l...

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20 OCT 2010

Back in August of 2009, I wrote "Let the Recovery Begin". The recession now having been declared over in July 2009, makes my declaration of recovery off by a month. While I qualified my forecast for a strong recovery as being another jobless recovery and tempered by state and local budget crises, I did think that the duration of the recession would create a greater bounce. Pent-up consumer demand, I thought would lead to a more vibrant recovery. At the time, an old friend wrote to tell me ex...

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03 AUG 2010

A good friend of mine in Finland had taken on a global powerhouse in their own backyard and won a market share battle. For a startup to have the audacity to take on the preeminent global leader was heroic enough, but to do it in a product with huge barriers to entry was even more inspiring. As is the custom in Finland, we were rotating between the sauna and cooling off with ice-cold vodka after a long day of work. I asked him what his greatest business challenge was.

He surprised me by say...

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26 JUN 2010

What has The Man done for you lately? If you're Too Big to Fail, you picked up some TARP money and paid yourself a big fat bonus. Pretty much hush money for not telling the world whose idea it was to have Fannie and Freddie go into the sub-prime loan business. If you're out of work, you're getting an endless series of unemployment benefit extensions. Not particularly good for you or the country, but sure to get your vote. If you're an entrepreneur trying to ride out hard times by dipping in...

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24 JUN 2010

Only Nixon could go to China and only John Kerry could debunk "progressive" economics. It would take a tax and spend, big government, soak the rich, nanny stater like Sen. Kerry to clear up any misconception on the realities of the economic impact of the progressive agenda. All of that progressive rhetoric is for getting votes, but when applied to the real world, it just doesn't work.

Senator Kerry just bought himself a new $7 million yacht. Good for him, I have no problem with that other t...

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07 OCT 2009

Having suffered through more than a half-dozen economic traumas in my professional career, I had grown complacent and philosophical about economic cycles. That of course ended as we entered the latest recession and as one of the self employed I found myself more than inconvenienced, but one of the traumatized. Instead of focusing solely on the managing through the consequences of economic distress, I found myself in economic distress.

I still follow my advice to clients and keep pursuing ...

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10 AUG 2009

The recession appears to have reached its nadir or close to it and a recovery is soon to follow. The current recession has shed 3.7% of GDP since the end of 2007 equaling the 1957-58 recession as the deepest downturn since the Great Depression. As with most serious financial disruptions, the pessimist and those that wanted TV airtime were prognosticating another depression. This recession fell far short of that.

The Current Crisis vs. The Great Depression


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09 JUL 2009

If you have been keeping up with my articles and blogs, you already knew the recovery would be under way and this summer would be a welcome relief from the agony of the past year. If you have not, then the recent economic news and pronouncements of the end being in sight by people in high places may have come as something of a surprise given all of their negative thinking, lowering of expectations and blame gaming we've been subjected to for the past year. Unfortunately, our leader has also cl...

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22 APR 2009

While it may be unfair to lay all the blame for the demise of the domestic auto industry at the feet of the United Auto Workers, the union certainly deserves the lion's share of the blame. From a selfish standpoint, its hard to fault their actions, they hold a monopoly on factory labor and they have successfully exacted hard to believe wage, benefit and work rule concessions from the Big Three for decades. All of this was done without killing them, but slowly wringing the life out of them.


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14 MAR 2009

I'm feeling better about the economy these days.  While I hesitate to read too much into one good week on Wall Street, I do take solace in a couple of encouraging events that suggest there is more good news to come.  First, a couple of takeovers in the pharmaceutical industry.  In addition, Berkshire Hathaway announced that they were resuming takeover analyses adding that opportunities abound. 

Stocks are now selling at pennies on the dollar having given back over a dec...

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12 FEB 2009

Every recession or economic anomaly is caused by the lack of a greater fool. Hard to believe given that everyone and their brother was involved in this one. From politicians that wanted to keep the populace happy by giving everyone a shot at their own home, other politicians that were happy to let it happen and fuel economic growth, the bankers, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, builders, building material suppliers and everyone else with a finger in the pie, investment bankers, shareholders...

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06 FEB 2009

No matter what your political inclination, the election of a new President always brings anticipation of some positive early action that will bring the various political tribes in the country together. After all, whether you voted for him or not, the country has a new President and we should all want him to be successful beyond our wildest dreams.

So far, it has unfortunately been a case of “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” This must be particularly distressing for younger American...

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09 JAN 2009

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Faced with disastrous near term prospects, you could join the rest of the herd and cut costs wherever you can, hunker down and wait for good times to return. An alternative I would suggest is to take advantage of your competition while they are hibernating. More than likely, they've cut advertising losing the mind share of existing and potential customers, cut back in other areas costing them in quality and customer service and possibly in sales al...

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08 JAN 2009

I have a difficult time with CEO pay.  On one hand I would like to think that it is determined based on market forces and should not be subject to government scrutiny.  On the other hand, it is most certainly influenced by the CEO fraternity of board members and compensation committees.  As a result, I have to defer to my gut feel.

I do not begrudge people like Bill Gates the ability to accumulate as much wealth as they can.  He didn't do it through an egregiously high salar...

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06 JAN 2009

Current events seem to have raised the bar on stock market volatility. Today, seemingly no news is good for a 5% swing up or down. While a 5% swing in an individual stock may not be out of the ordinary, day-to-day fluctuations of that magnitude for the market as a whole certainly are. Does this mean even in a post recovery market, we can expect to see 10, 15 and 20% movements in individual issue share price be something of the norm? If so, how will that effect corporate governance?

Even today, ...

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05 JAN 2009

If you are not somehow preoccupied with the financial crisis, you are probably homeless, out of work and out of your mind.  Virtually everyone has been effected by the worldwide meltdown of the banking system.  It is only human that when faced by crisis, we look to see who to blame.  Given the magnitude of the problem we are fortunate that the government is going to do the work for us.  Nancy Pelosi has instructed Barney Frank to get to the bottom of this sordid mess.&nb...

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02 JAN 2009

My own ability to remain philosophical about the stock market ended about 20% of my life savings ago.  I must admit that I have become somewhat cynical in the last month as the market tests new lows on a daily basis.  This has afforded me some enjoyment in the dark humor surrounding the pathetic attempts of the media and financial experts to explain why the market dropped another 5% on the previous day. 

My favorite explanations revolve around addressing known facts as surprises ...

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20 DEC 2008

Maybe it's the Christmas season, but I'm beginning to have visions of recovery ahead.  My internal plan is that life will be much brighter this summer.  Many experts say that we'll have to wait until at least 2010 for good times, but I don't put too much stock in "experts" these days.  Even if they are correct, I hope that just as I didn't notice we were in recession in the first half of 2008, I may similarly be spared recognizing that we are in recession in the second half of 200...

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30 NOV 2008

Over eager shoppers at a Long Island Wal-Mart trampled and killed a Wal-Mart greeter on Black Friday. This event is a tragedy on its own, but was made even worse in the way it was reported in The New York Times and reprinted in dozens of papers throughout the United States. The Times described the incident as "a sign of consumer desparation amid a bleak economy". How in the world did they come to that conclusion other than to determine that the death of a Wal-Mart greeter wouldn't sell papers,...

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10 NOV 2008

The business community has long claimed that private enterprise was inherently more efficient in providing goods and services than the government. The premise being that government was prone to bureaucratic bloat with ever increasing taxation, over regulation and the centralization of authority. If big government created these practices, big business seems to be making them into an art form.

Anyone that has worked in a large corporate environment outside of a headquarters understands the conc...

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