Business Columns & Blogs

Here are some things you won’t see this year

Making predictions about the new year is so cliche. We prefer to speculate about what won’t happen, to alert you to the headlines you won’t be seeing over stories you won’t be reading in 2012.

“Voters Wish Campaign Was Longer”: For those of you a bit under the weather this morning, let us add to your misery. The seemingly endless campaign is barely getting started. Not a single vote that means anything has yet been cast. We have 10 full months to go, and when the day after the election finally gets here we can immediately start in on the 2014 and 2016 races.

“Administration, Congress Cut Deficit, Address Looming Debt Crisis”: Read the item above. It’s an election year. How likely do you think it is that one side, or both, will renounce their positions and agree to what the other side is proposing?

You also won’t be reading any hand-wringing, at least not in this space, about how awful it is that nothing is getting done. For the long run, that’s a problem. For the short term, however, repeat after us: Gridlock is good. Inaction works. Stalemate is your friend – at least when compared with what you get when Congress and the president do rouse themselves and Do Something.

“Housing Prices Surge As Foreclosures Tumble”: We’d really like to tell you that the housing market will do better than stabilize, because the implications of relative health in that sector affect so many individuals, families, companies, industries and regions. But saying that the housing market will look a lot better in 2012 still appears to be a reach. Foreclosures may slow, prices may level off, a few modest building projects may actually launch, but there’s just too much economic squishiness. Such has been the length, breadth and depth of the housing sector’s recession that “it’s not getting worse” counts as optimism.

“Boeing Flies Through 2012 With No Concerns”: Darn the Machinists union for depriving us of planeloads of stories about a strike. Never mind, we can always find something to worry about: The search for workers, competition from China, increasing production without snarling the line, getting the 737 Max designed and built on time, cuts in federal spending on defense, the financial health of those airlines that have flooded Boeing with orders. There, that should keep us sufficiently nervous for the balance of this year.

“Amazon Passes Up Entry Into New Sector”: How quaint to think of Amazon as a book, CD and DVD retailer. It’s a rare product or service that Amazon isn’t poking or prodding at to see if it can elbow its way into.

“New Apple Product Introduced With No Customer Lines, Lackluster Reviews”: Not that it’s happened within recent memory, but even Apple has to come up with a clunker, right?

“China Exports To U.S., Raw Material Imports Dry Up”: Call this one a bit of good news for West Coast ports, at least. For all the chatter about how much longer the China boom can continue, the bigger issue is whether China can afford in social and political terms not to keep it going.

“Tacoma Skips Unveiling Of Economic Plan: No Conference Planned”: What would a year in Tacoma be without a bushel of ideas (including some from this quarter) for reviving its economy, and a conference or three on the need for such ideas? Of greater interest will be seeing whether anyone is working on the ideas that have been offered, and what they’re accomplishing.

Now, on with the job of finding and writing the stories you will be reading.

Bill Virgin is editor and publisher of Washington Manufacturing Alert and Pacific Northwest Rail News. He can be reached at