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Economy

Winter 2010

A sinking economy sparks scholarships

Two years ago, Lou Pepper watched the bank he once managed become the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

Pepper, a former Washington State University regent, had retired from Washington Mutual in the early 1990s when the bank was sound. But then a pattern of rapid growth and risky lending led to the collapse.

The former CEO felt helpless as each day brought more negative news. “People had been building this bank for 115 years, damn good people,” says Pepper, leaning forward in his chair in the small first-floor office of his home on Skagit Bay. And many of them were losing their savings, their … » More …

It's Right Here: An interview with Spokane's economic development officer Tom Reese

Washington State Magazine talks with Tom Reese, the economic development officer in the Spokane mayor’s office, about the knowledge economy, the role of higher education in economic development, and the planned university district surrounding Washington State University’s Spokane campus. Reese is an adjunct faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Design Institute at WSU Spokane.

Tom Reese: Spokane is redefining itself. I think it’s really interesting that the world’s fair focused on Spokane and the environment. Spokane at that time [1974] was in the throes of being a resource-based economy, timber, and manufacturing and processing of those resources, and how to do it [correctly] was really … » More …

Summer 2009

Interesting times

We were having a long midweek dinner at Le Pichet in Seattle, a sort of anticipatory wake for the Seattle P-I, where my friend Tom had worked as a reporter for 20-some years. Tom’s pretty crusty and tends to brush even the most irksome things off with a joke.

But being a fifty-something journalist facing a post-newspaper era in a town awash in laid-off reporters, reality had started to sink in. Even so, referring to the demise of his employer and the economic times in general, at one point Tom gestured outside to First Avenue and said, “But this is no crisis. Somalia has a … » More …

Summer 2006

Can America compete in a 'Flat' World?

Many of you are familiar with Thomas Friedman’s argument, in The World is Flat, that technology has eliminated many barriers to competition and thus created today’s globally competitive economic environment. His dramatic examples of outsourcing show that key services, including high-level engineering and scientific tasks, can be effectively accomplished without regard to the workers’ physical location. This allows imaginative businesses to tap talent from around the globe, often at considerable savings.

Friedman, a foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times, uses this evidence to reach some alarming conclusions about how America will fare in the future. After establishing the central thesis that location is … » More …