Thats not a rocket. Thats the rent.
That's not a rocket. That's the rent. Royalty-free/gettyimages.com

Now and then, the truth about the local economy makes an appearance in a piece by a mainstream business reporter. In this case, it's found at the heart of Puget Sound Business Journal's "Kent Valley aerospace sector gaining jobs but losing employers, report finds." Admittedly, I scanned the story for deserved dirt on Boeing, a company that, judging from Forbes's recent sober assessment of its current state, needs to be nationalized pronto if the US hopes to remain competitive in this industry. (More about that at the end of this post.)

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But what started as a scan soon became absorption when I realized that it contained real analytical content. In the kind of economic theorizing that informs my writing, you begin by abstracting the facts (analysis), followed by connecting these abstractions into a concept (synthesis). That's how the real meets (or is reconstructed in) the mind.

The main economic challenge for Kent's space industry, as presented by PSBJ's reporter Marissa Nall, is not Boeing's region-wide disinvestment but soaring industrial rents.

The data supporting the core of Nall's story was provided by Bill Ellis, the "chief economic development officer for the city." And what it revealed to them was that "while commercial space in Kent Valley remains affordable compared with neighboring areas in King County, industrial rents jumped 90% between 2018 and the first quarter of 2022."

Think about that for a minute. A 90% increase. In 4 years. Now that's inflation.

PSBJ:

The overall percentage of Kent Valley firms that are part of the aerospace industry has remained “pretty durable despite pandemic and recessions and all these things that have occurred in the past decade,” Ellis said. But he added that every time a lease ends for small or midsize manufacturers they take “a huge cut to profitability" amid steep increases on renewals.

"They’re having to scrap out there with international capital for real estate,” he said.

And what is Seattle all about these days? Sweeping the homeless, blaming the homeless for everything under the bloody sun, and throwing shoplifters into the prison. This is our focus. This is why Bruce Harrell is in City Hall. Our leaders are gripped by the vision of graffiti descending on the city like locusts on ancient Egypt.

But what about commercial rents, industrial rents, and residential rents? Hardly a peep from City Hall or downtown business associations. Kent, however, has a chance, though a very slim one, because Bill Ellis is ringing the right fucking bell. The biggest threat to the growth of a key industry in their valley is global rentier capital.

Meanwhile, in Seattle:

And:

That said, let's turn to Boeing, a company that imploded with lots of help from the Seattle Times, a publication that was always quick to report on labor disputes but completely ignored buybacks. Read Loren Thompson's post. It is from the perspective of a national security reporter. And it concludes that the aerospace corporation will tank a top export sector for the United States.

Loren:

The [decline of Boeing] should worry Washington more than it seems to. Boeing has been the nation’s biggest exporter for many years, and if it can’t return to parity with Airbus then America will be out of the jetliner business for good.

China presumably would move to fill the vacuum in the marketplace at America’s expense.

But look at what the U.S. would be losing. In 2019, the last normal year before the pandemic, the aerospace industry generated $148 billion in exports, 85% of which was commercial content.

80% of Boeing's suppliers are based in this country. To lose its considerable market share to Europe's Airbus and China's Comac would reduce the US to nothing more than a feedlot supported by a privilège exorbitant that's increasingly challenged by the yuan.

In Saudi Arabia: "Saudi and Chinese officials are in talks to price some of the Gulf nation’s oil sales in yuan rather than dollars or euros." And:

What should the US do? If I were a capitalist, I would say: "Nationalize the corporation now." The other airplane companies are state-owned or parastatal and therefore better managed. Boeing can no longer be run by people who expect nothing but short-term capital events from all investments. It needs the deep-time and blue-sky of the government. Also, if it were nationalized, confidence in American know-how would be given a much-needed second chance.

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