Here’s a brief roundup of a bunch of noteworthy items that have popped into my inbox and RSS feeds in the last day or two.
Aubrey Cohen: Current economic woes more like 1873 than 1929.
“When commentators invoke 1929, I am dubious,” writes Scott Reynolds Nelson, a professor of history at the College of William and Mary. “According to most historians and economists, that depression had more to do with overlarge factory inventories, a stock-market crash, and Germany’s inability to pay back war debts, which then led to continuing strain on British gold reserves. None of those factors is really an issue now.”
Nelson continues: “In fact, the current economic woes look a lot like what my 96-year-old grandmother still calls ‘the real Great Depression.’ She pinched pennies in the 1930s, but she says that times were not nearly so bad as the depression her grandparents went through. That crash came in 1873 and lasted more than four years.”
Microsoft confirmed Friday it’s re-evaluating its current hiring plans and “will make some adjustments as appropriate.”
Those adjustments are likely to be downward, given Chief Executive Steve Ballmer’s recent comments about Microsoft being affected by the economic slowdown.
Although the company still intends to keep growing, any reductions are unsettling for a region reeling from the fire sale of Washington Mutual, the sale of Safeco, a Boeing strike and a sputtering housing market.
Seattle Times real estate blogger Cindy Zetts shares some recent meandering excerpts from her blog, in which she appears to be trying to spin today’s market positively.
Aubrey Cohen also gives a good outline of what the local foreclosure auction scene looks like today.
That’s the foreclosure auction scene these days: lots of houses for sale, lots of cautious investors and an increasing number of civilians who think it might be a good place to get a home at a bargain price.
And lastly, Mr. Cohen again, who points out in his blog that local real estate broker Coldwell Banker Bain is thumbing their nose at the national Coldwell Banker office, declining to participate in the 10% off “10-Day Sales Event.”
“While I appreciate the effort to ‘make something happen’ relative to the more adversely affected markets in the U.S., we strongly feel the ‘retail’ mindset of this promotion is not appropriate,” Ron Sparks, managing vice president Coldwell Banker Bain, said via e-mail. “Homes are unique, and each brings a nuanced value proposition to the market. We do our very best to properly price our listings every day.”
In other words, “Seattle is special. Homes here are worth whatever we say they’re worth, and these stubborn buyers just need to deal with it.”