Washington State’s Economy: Gregoire vs. Gregoire

February, 2008:

Gov. Chris Gregoire, at a Seattle economic forum Thursday, boasted she has found that Washington is “literally the envy of other states.”

“I ask all of us to make sure that we do not buy into, or even for that matter, listen to, the dire talk internationally and nationally, because it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy for us,” Gregoire said. “We must be optimistic. We must understand our economy is strong and growth is going to continue to be the future.”

August, 2008:

Gov. Chris Gregoire is telling state agencies to cut hiring, travel and fuel costs as the weak economy continues to take its toll.

In a memo released Monday, Gregoire tells agency directors to cut gas consumption by five percent. She also orders freezes on hiring, out-of-state travel, service contracts and extra equipment.

It would seem that when economic reality fights blind optimism, economic reality wins.

Luckily, we’ve been preparing for this.  Oh wait no, no we haven’t.

Update: Things aren’t looking so great around Seattle either: King County budget shortfall at $86.5 million for 2009

A sharp drop-off in sales-tax revenues and a “dramatic increase” in the cost of living in June have pushed King County’s 2009 funding shortfall to $86.5 million, Budget Director Bob Cowan told the Metropolitan King County Council Monday.

The gap in the $658 million general fund — forecast at $60 million in March — has widened as inflation and turmoil in the nation’s housing and financial markets have grown in recent months.

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.


  1. 1
    Eric Arrr says:

    Gregoire’s two representations of the WA economy are not imcompatible.

    Washington can have a lousy economy and be the envy of other states whose economies are even lousier!

  2. 2
    johnsgonefishin says:

    Gregoire’s if we believe hard enough it won’t come true policy has shown its effectiveness. I guess most likely the problem is that most agencies in the state did believe things were so good in Washington that infact they started hiring more people than needed and drove around cruising to show how much money they had to burn on gas. I guess its back to the group think pool with that policy. Oh I know the new idea- do not let them spend money, that will save the local economy!

  3. 3
    Jonny says:

    There are two problems with whistling past the graveyard. The first is that unrealistic optimism leaves you unprepared for reality. The second is that a delusional frame of mind like that can lead to an even more crushing depression when things go wrong than would occur in someone with both feet on ground.

  4. 4
    Alan says:

    We became the self-fulfilling prophecy. It is all your fault, Tim.

  5. 5
    budbrad says:

    Things changed a lot in a few months. I see no reason to blame Gregoire for the situation. She’s simply playing the hand she’s been dealt by the feds, etc.

  6. 6
    softwarengineer says:


    Its all the bureaucrats she’s added to the tax pay rolls enlarging Olympia’s population, and her [and her Dem Senate and Reps] never say no attitude to a bill adding costs. What happenned to our rainy day surplus fund?

    I was horrified when she wanted DUI checkpoints and car searches; and this is liberal?

    I’m sure other of you Dems and moderates have some horror stories about her too. You Reps are just laughing at us…lol….

  7. 7
    AndyMiami says:

    the great unwinding of the credit and housing bubble will affect all…even as the maker of bubbles, Alan Greenspan, admitted last week, what we are facing happens once or twice in a century…real estate is just a part of it..I continue to be amazed at how Seattle residents are in total denial about the world economy and what is happening. This is supposed to be one of the most educated liberal minded cities…and I think that the great economic success of Seattle has blinded the population..we are in for a big surprise at how bad it is going to get..unfortunately

  8. 8
    david losh says:

    Credit is an interesting animal. We´re traveling in Peru and the change is incredible. New stores, banks, and credit cards have transformed the country. When we were in Spain it was the opposite. Credit has inflated prices there beyond all means.
    My original premise a couple of years ago when I first started commenting here is now coming back to me. In the United States we have the ability to make money. It isn´t just a matter of jobs, but opportunity to invest where ever we want. Our country was founded by criminals. There is no debtors prison.
    In other parts of the world we all have the same ability because we have Blue Passports. Some of you talk about the stock market. Well all you have to do is travel and see where the money is going. You have that ability.
    While other people wait and watch you have a computer you can look at any time as a window on the world. It´s like shooting fish in a barrel.
    So while you make your numbers or read news reports you could just as easily make a little bit more to have a little bit more. It´s only money and you are either in control or not. It´s your choice. You decide, you have that option, opportunity, and ability.

  9. 9
    TheHulk says:


    I am not sure exactly what you are implying with that post. Sure, credit is an absolute necessity in many cases (business expansion, car loans, medical emergencies, heck even micro credit loans that were made famous by the guy who won the last nobel peace prize).

    However, with credit comes a price. It must be used with caution and responsibly. There was a reason all those boring 30 yr fixed rate mortgages made available for the last 40 odd years or so since the 1950s worked so well. People saved for a 20% down payment. Banks made sure debtors had “skin in the game”. More importantly banks held on to the loans on their portfolios and it was in their best interests to ensure that the debts were paid off. With the frivolous lending of this past decade we have seen basic fundamentals and with it prices being thrown out of the window.

    Its time to return to basics. Sure you can invest money anywhere in the world. If I had a million bucks just sitting around doing nothing, I sure would have thought about investing 20-30% in “risky” ventures. But my whole life’s savings and the (potential) roof above my head, especially from individuals who stand to profit from those very transactions, most certainly not!

  10. 10
    jonness says:

    I got Christine’s email across my desk today asking us to cut down on fuel usage. She said if anybody has ideas on how to do this, to let her know.

    I responded that I had read her previous recommendation for Washington employers to adopt telecommuting policies when possible. I went on to inform her that the head of IT in the state department that I work for has an “absolutely no telecommuting” policy. I asked her for recommendations on how to talk my stubborn old fashioned director into opening up his mind and entering the 21st century so we can uncongest our roadways, save our environment, and cut down on fuel usage in order to help oil prices come down.

    I’ll let you know if I can start telecommuting in the next week or so…

    Seriously, the problem with my workplace isn’t that I have to drive a hundred miles a day to get there and back. It is that there is so much non-work related talking going on in my office that it is almost impossible for me to concentrate long enough to get any actual work done. If I could stay home, I could at least double my work output.

  11. 11
    Herman says:

    It’s true, what jonness says. WA state and Seattle are backwards when it comes to telecommuting. Other states and cities have policies, tax incentives, and so on. We have nothing, yet we have a huge knowledge-workforce and lots of traffic. It makes no sense.

  12. 12
    Buceri says:

    “Washington can have a lousy economy and be the envy of other states whose economies are even lousier!”

    I have said it many times. In Seattle, you have no idea how good you have it and how terrible it is in most other states. Not only you have a highly educated progressive population but also a very healthy job market (at least currently). Sure, if you want to compare yourself with San Jose….but there is only one San Jose, but hundreds of Detroits around the country.

    With all due respect to everyone; if you are have only lived west of the Rockies all your life, you are very disconnected to the tough realities of 80% of the population of this country.

  13. 13
    Peckhammer says:

    “..I continue to be amazed at how Seattle residents are in total denial about the world economy and what is happening. “

    It’s not much different than purchasers of Belltown real estate who are in denial about how incredibly dangerous of an area they chose to live. Facing up to reality is often painful — especially when money spent foolishly is involved.

    I noticed this gem in the PI today:


    “I can’t tell you how many times people have had their store windows shot out,” she said Monday, ticking off some names. “Bullets are flying. It’s the Wild, Wild West down here, especially Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.”

    Maybe that will be used in future Belltown real estate listings.

  14. 14
    david losh says:

    The problem with down town is that we have no entertainment value there. It was destroyed by this City Council who has been against development of the down town core. I can never stress enough how much damage the CAP initiative did to our city.
    Our City Council along with Chuckles the Clown, Nickles, would want down town to look like a suburban mall. Chili´s should be the action spot.

  15. 15
    vboring says:

    @jonness re: telecommuting

    be careful pushing telecommuting too hard. it is one step closer to being outsourced. if you can do your job without coming to the office, maybe some guy in India can do it without coming to the country…..and for 10% what they pay you. maybe your boss is trying to help you out by keeping you in your desk.

  16. 16
    Jonny says:

    david: don’t you think a bunch of screaming yuppie condo owners who have just lost $300,000 will provide the missing entertainment value?

  17. 17
  18. 18
    mikal says:

    Buceri you are correct. That is why prices have been more expensive here since the early 90’s.

  19. 19
    Mack says:

    I wonder how many governments – state, municipal, county – are doing well this year.

    There are varied opinions on how a doubling of crude oil prices, the loss of fifty or sixty thousand jobs a month, tightening of credit, devaluation of the dollar vs other currencies, and the national debt affect local economies. None of those opinions, however, is, “In a good way.”

    As you know, Washington Realtors have endorsed Dino Rossi for Governor. That is really your only option.

    Party on.

  20. 20
    jonness says:

    vboring: He he, good point! But the beauty of that would be I’d get 6 mo. of free money drawing unemployment benefits while I revamped my life. Who knows, it might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

  21. 21
    Seattle is magical says:

    prices here simply will not drop — much

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