Recession won’t revive Seattle’s bygone days

Frustration may cause you to wish for a downturn to take the froth off Seattle’s boom. It will come. But it won’t be beneficial.

“What this town needs is a good recession.”

I’ve heard this sentiment, or something like it, from a number of people, sometimes tongue partly in cheek, other times seriously. Maybe you have, too. Maybe you think the same.

The speakers are seeking a just, cleansing fire that burns those smug, overpaid techies — especially Amazonians — greedy developers, real-estate speculators and _______ (fill in the blank).

At its purest and most sentimental level, it’s a desire to return to a city with plenty of blue-collar workers, easy driving, fewer people — especially Californians — and single-family housing that the average middle-class family can afford.

Well, hang around. A recession will show up, perhaps sooner than you think.

The trouble is that it won’t dispense a biblical butt-whippin’ of the digerati, although some may be slapped. It will hurt the most vulnerable people worst. House prices would go down some, but bounce back and rise even higher. And it won’t return the Seattle of 1950, 1980 — pick your golden time.

To be sure, recessions are natural phenomena of human action in the market. The business cycle expands and contracts.

Since I became a business journalist in 1984, the United States has been through three official national recessions, along with plenty of region- and industry-specific downturns.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, nonprofit organization, officially dates the events. It says a recession “is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months.”

Economists like recessions. They clean out the system, wiping out the bad bets, imbalances and shaky enterprises that accumulate during an expansion, especially when it becomes a bubble. A recession is a necessary purification so the…

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