Local News

Big cities lost population early in COVID pandemic

<p><p>Ko Im always thought she would live in New York forever. She knew every corner of Manhattan and had worked hard to build a community of friends.</p></p><p><p>Living in a small apartment, she found her attitude shifting early in the coronavirus pandemic. After her brother accepted a job in Seattle in the summer of 2020, she… ... Continue Reading

Pay for female CEOs rose 26% in 2021, but ranks remain small

<p><p>NEW YORK – Pay packages for the women who run S&amp;P 500 companies jumped in 2021 as the economy recovered and stock prices and profits soared.</p></p><p><p>Median pay for the women occupying the corner office rose to nearly $16 million, according to the annual survey done by Equilar for the Associated Press.</p></p><p><p>Still, experts say there’s much more to be done to improve gender diversity in the corporate ranks and close the pay gap <span class="print_trim">between men and women</span>.</p></p><p><p>Jane Stevenson, vice chair, Board &amp; CEO Services at organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry said while it is good that women CEOs’ pay rose, there is still a lot to be done.</p></p><p><p>“I think the danger is to look at those cases of CEOs making more than their peers and see a message about the pay gap being closed – it’s not,” she said.</p></p><p><p>Of the 340 CEOs in the latest survey of S&amp;P 500 companies, 18 were women, up from 16 in 2020.</p></p><p><p>Profits for S&amp;P 500 companies rose roughly 50% and the index gained about 27%.</p></p><p><p>Because the bulk of a CEOs’ compensation is tied to such performance, their pay packages ballooned <span class="print_trim">after years of mostly moderating growth</span>.</p></p><p><p>Female CEO median pay rose 26.4% in 2021 to $15.8 million, with 15 of the 18 women CEOs in the survey seeing an increase.</p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Median means half made more than that level, and half made less. That was a bigger jump than that for male CEOs’ median pay, which rose 17.7% to $14.4 million. The <a href="https://apnews.com/article/2021-median-ceo-pay-df8a253483aebd48be99f50826ef2b49">overall median pay increased</a> 17.1% to $14.5 million.</span></p></p><p><p>The few women who are CEOs of the largest U.S. companies typically make more money than their male counterparts.</p></p> ... Continue Reading

Worry about stagflation, a flashback to '70s, begins to grow

<p><p>WASHINGTON – Stagflation. It was the dreaded “S word” of the 1970s.</p></p><p><p>For Americans of a certain age, it conjures memories of painfully long lines at gas stations, shuttered factories and President Gerald Ford’s much-ridiculed “Whip Inflation Now” buttons.</p></p><p><p>Stagflation is the bitterest of economic pills: High inflation mixes with a weak job market to cause a toxic brew that punishes consumers and befuddles economists.</p></p><p><p>For decades, most economists didn’t think such a nasty concoction was even possible. They’d long assumed that inflation would run high only when the economy was strong and unemployment low.</p></p><p><p>But an unhappy confluence of events has economists reaching back to the days of disco and the bleak high-inflation, high-unemployment economy of nearly a half century ago. Few think stagflation is in sight.</p></p><p><p>But as a longer-term threat, it can no longer be dismissed.</p></p><p><p>Last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen invoked the word in remarks to reporters:</p></p><p><p>“The economic outlook globally,” Yellen said, “is challenging and uncertain, and higher food and energy prices are having stagflationary effects, namely depressing output and spending and raising inflation all around the world.”</p></p><p><p>On Thursday, the government estimated that the economy shrank at a 1.5% annual rate from January through March.</p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">But the drop was due mostly to two factors that don’t reflect the economy’s underlying strength: A rising trade gap caused by Americans’ appetite for foreign products and a slowdown in the restocking of businesses inventories after a big holiday season buildup.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">For now, economists broadly agree that the U.S. economy has enough oomph to avoid a recession.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">But the problems are piling up. Supply chain bottlenecks and disruptions from Russia’s war against Ukraine have sent consumer prices surging at their fastest pace in decades.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">The Federal Reserve and other central banks, blindsided by raging inflation, are scrambling to catch up by aggressively raising interest rates.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">They hope to cool growth enough to tame inflation without causing a recession.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">It’s a notoriously difficult task. The widespread fear, reflected in shrunken stock prices, is that the Fed will end up botching it and will clobber the economy without delivering a knockout blow to inflation.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">This month, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke told The New York Times that “inflation’s still too high but coming down. So there should be a period in the next year or two where growth is low, unemployment is at least up a little bit and inflation is still high.”</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">And then Bernanke summed up his thoughts: “You could call that stagflation.”</span></p></p><p><h3><span class="print_trim">What is stagflation?</span><br/><br/></h3></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">There’s no formal definition or specific statistical threshold.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, has his own rough guide: Stagflation arrives in the United States, he says, when the unemployment rate reaches at least 5% and consumer prices have surged 5% or more from a year earlier.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">The U.S. unemployment rate is now just 3.6%.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">In the European Union, where joblessness typically runs higher, Zandi’s threshold is different: 9% unemployment and 4% year-over-year inflation, in his view, would combine to cause stagflation.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Until about 50 years ago, economists viewed stagflation as a near-impossibility.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">They hewed to something called the Phillips Curve, named for its creator, economist A.W.H. “Bill’’ Phillips (1914-1975) of New Zealand. This theory held that inflation and unemployment move in opposite directions.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">It sounds like common sense: When the economy is weak and lots of people are out of work, businesses find it hard to raise prices.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">So inflation should stay low. Likewise, when the economy is hot enough for businesses to pass along big price hikes to their customers, unemployment should stay fairly low.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Somehow, reality hasn’t proved so straightforward.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">What can throw things off is a supply shock – say, a surge in the cost of raw materials that ignites inflation and leaves consumers with less money to spend to fuel the economy.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Which is exactly what happened in the 1970s.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing countries imposed an oil embargo on the United States and other countries that supported Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Oil prices jumped and stayed high. The cost of living grew more unaffordable for many. The economy reeled.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Enter stagflation. Each year from 1974 through 1982, inflation and unemployment in the United States both topped 5%.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">The combination of the two figures, which came to be called the “misery index,” peaked at a most miserable 20.6 in 1980.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Stagflation, and especially chronically high inflation, became a defining feature of the 1970s. Political figures struggled in vain to attack the problem.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">President Richard Nixon resorted, futilely, to wage and price controls. The Ford administration issued “Whip Inflation Now” buttons. The reaction was mainly scorn.</span></p></p><p><h3><span class="print_trim">Has stagflation arrived?</span><br/><br/></h3></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">No. For now, the stagflation glass is only half-full.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">There’s “flation’’ for sure: Consumer prices shot up 8.3% in April from a year earlier, just below a 41-year high set the previous month.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Consumer prices are surging largely because the economy rebounded with unexpected vigor from the brief but devastating pandemic recession.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Factories, ports and freight yards have been overwhelmed trying to keep up with an unexpected jump in customer orders. The result has been delays, shortages and higher prices.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Critics also blame President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan of March 2021 for overheating an economy that was already hot.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">The Ukraine war made things worse by disrupting trade in energy and food and sending prices up.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">But the “stag’’ has yet to arrive: Even though the government reported Thursday that economic output shrank from January through March, the nation’s job market has kept roaring.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Every month for the past year, employers have added a robust 400,000-plus jobs.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">At 3.6%, the unemployment rate is just a notch above 50-year lows.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">This week, the Fed reported that Americans are in solid financial health: Nearly eight in 10 adults said last fall that they were “doing okay or living comfortably” – the highest proportion since the Fed started asking the question in 2013.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Still, the risks are accumulating. And so are concerns about potential stagflation.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Fed Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged this month that the central bank might not be able to achieve a soft landing and dodge a recession.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">He told American Public Media’s “Marketplace” that he worries about “factors that we don’t control” – the Ukraine war, a slowdown in China, the lingering pandemic.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">At the same time, inflation has been eroding Americans’ purchasing power: Prices have risen faster than hourly pay for 13 straight months.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">And the nation’s savings rate, which soared in 2020 and 2021 as Americans banked government relief checks, has fallen below pre-pandemic levels.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Europe is even more vulnerable to stagflation. Energy prices there have skyrocketed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Unemployment in the 27 EU countries is already 6.2%.</span></p></p><p><h3><span class="print_trim">Why did stagflation vanish?</span><br/><br/></h3></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">For four decades, the United States virtually banished inflation.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">In the early 1980s, Fed Chair Paul Volcker had jacked up interest rates so high to fight inflation – 30-year mortgage rates approached a dizzying 19% in 1981 – that he caused back-to-back recessions in 1980 and 1981-82.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Yet Volcker achieved his goal: He managed to rid the economy of high inflation. And it stayed away.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">“The Fed has worked hard since the stagflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s,” Zandi said, “to keep inflation and inflation expectations closer to its target,” which is now around 2%.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Other factors, including the rise of low-cost manufacturing in China and other developing countries, kept a tight lid on prices that consumers and businesses pay.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">The United States has endured periods of high unemployment – it reached 10% after the 2007-2009 Great Recession and 14.7% after COVID-19 erupted of 2020.</span></p></p><p><p><span class="print_trim">Yet until last year, inflation had remained at bay. In fact, not since 1990 has the nation faced a year of Zandi’s 5%-inflation, 5%-unemployment stagflation standard.</span></p></p> ... Continue Reading

Fire damages old North Side Lowe's building

<p><p>An early morning fire damaged the old Lowe’s building on Spokane’s North Side Thursday. </p></p><p><p>Reports of a fire at the building, 6902 N. Division St., came in at about 2:20 a.m., the Spokane Fire Department said in a news release. </p></p><p><p>Spokane Fire crews along with firefighters from Spokane County Fire District 9 responded within minutes to find security… ... Continue Reading

More Memorial Day travel expected, despite high gas prices

<p><p>LOS ANGELES — To drive, or not to drive? This Memorial Day weekend, with surging gas prices that are redefining pain at the pump, that is the question for many Americans as a new COVID-19 surge also spreads across the country.</p></p><p><p>For Marvin Harper, of Phoenix, his family’s weekend travel plans are a double punch to the… ... Continue Reading

Four wolves found dead in northeast Washington, environmental groups allege poisoning

<p><p>The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has launched a poaching investigation after two Stevens County deputies stumbled upon four dead wolves in northeast Washington while on snowmobile patrol near the Canadian border on Feb. 8. </p></p><p><p>Some environmental groups are raising the alarm with at least one claiming the animals were poisoned, although they haven’t offered any evidence to support that allegation. </p></p><p><p>“Officer (Jen) Stearns and I at first thought maybe Fish and Wildlife had done a helicopter hunt to thin the numbers but there was no blood we could see or bullet holes,” wrote deputy Henry Stroisch in a police statement provided to The Spokesman-Review by several regional environmental groups. “The final three wolves appeared to be more recent (guessing less than two weeks). There were no new snowmobile tracks to indicate recent travel.”</p></p><p><p>The wolves were in the Wedge Pack territory, in northern Stevens County above Churchill Mine Road on Forest Service Road 180. Upon returning to the Sheriff’s Office, Stroisch contacted WDFW although he never heard back, according to his statement.</p></p><p><p>“The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is aware of and actively investigating dead wolves found in Stevens County,” said statewide wolf coordinator Julia Smith in a statement. “Because this incident is under active investigation by law enforcement, no further information is being provided at this time.”</p></p><p><p>Rumors of the deaths have been swirling in Eastern Washington for months even coming <a href="https://nwsportsmanmag.com/wdfw-investigating-dead-wolves-in-stevens-county" target="_blank">up several times during WDFW commission meetings</a>. On Wednesday, several environmental organizations released a statement regarding the deaths. In its statement the Kettle Range Conservation Group claimed the wolves were poisoned.</p></p><p><p>“WDFW is often criticized for its lack of transparency around wolf management,” said Chris Bachman, a director with the Kettle Range Conservation Group, in a statement. “I understand they likely have an investigation ongoing, but why the opacity? Why not engage the public and try to garner information? Three months have passed and the trail is now cold. There may be federal crimes involved, what is happening to bring the perpetrators to justice?”</p></p><p><p>According to <a href="https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/updates/monthly-wolf-report-april-2022" target="_blank">WDFW’s April wolf report, only one wolf had been found dead in the state</a>. Claire Davis, a Seattle lawyer and partner in the law firm Animal &amp; Earth Advocates, accused of WDFW of lying in these reports and during public meetings.</p></p><p><p>“I think it’s very hard to make a believable argument that it has been necessary to lie to the public for three months for the benefit of the investigation,” she said.</p></p><p><p><a href="https://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2012/sep/27/helicopter-gunner-kills-6th-wedge-pack-wolf-effort-concludes-alpha-male-female-dead" target="_blank">The Wedge Pack was first confirmed as a pack in 2012</a>. That same year WDFW killed all members of the pack following repeated attacks on livestock from the Diamond M Ranch. Wolves repopulated the area in subsequent years. In 2020, <a href="https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/aug/17/wdfw-kills-last-two-wolves-in-wedge-pack-territory" target="_blank">WDFW again killed all members of the pack following livestock attacks</a>. As of December 2021 <a href="https://wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/02317/wdfw02317.pdf" target="_blank">WDFW estimated there were 9 wolves in the pack</a>.</p></p><p><p>Since wolves naturally returned to Washington State in 2008 there have been a number of confirmed poaching cases, although arrests and prosecutions are rare.</p></p><p><p><a href="https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/jun/14/female-wolf-poached-in-stevens-county-washington-w" target="_blank">In May 2021, a female wolf that had pups was illegally killed in northeast Washington</a> near the Sheep Creek area of Stevens County. The female died of a gunshot wound, according to a WDFW necropsy. The wolf was believed to be the breeding female from the Wedge Pack. No charges or arrests have been made in that poaching case.</p></p><p><p>In 2019 a wolf was poached near the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, also in Stevens County. There has been no conviction in that case despite reward money totaling $10,000.</p></p><p><p>In two other cases, one poaching suspect was prosecuted 2015 but the case was dismissed. And in 2016, a Palouse farmer was prosecuted, found guilty and ordered to pay a $100 fine.</p></p><p><p>There were a minimum of <a href="https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/apr/09/washington-spends-14-million-on-wolves-in-2021-as" target="_blank">206 wolves and 33 packs in Washington state in 2021, according to an annual survey conducted by state and tribal biologists</a>.</p></p> ... Continue Reading

Early morning kitchen fire leaves resident with significant burns

<p><p>An early morning kitchen fire left the resident of a South Hill home with significant burns. </p></p><p><p>A neighbor reported smoke coming from a home on the 800 block of East 33rd Avenue, according to a news release from the Spokane Fire Department. Firefighters were dispatched just before 7 a.m. Thursday. </p></p><p><p>Crews arrived to find a fire in… ... Continue Reading

Macy's raises annual profit outlook on strong Q1 results

<p><p>NEW YORK — Shoppers’ return to occasion dressing helped to power Macy’s fiscal first-quarter results, and the department store chain raised its annual earnings outlook even as surging inflation is crimping Americans’ budgets.</p></p><p><p>The performance, announced Thursday, was among the few bright spots in a pile of reports from retailers that showed the impact of rising… ... Continue Reading

Stocks rise broadly on gains from retailers including Macy's

<p><p>NEW YORK — Stocks rose broadly in morning trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors cheered a strong set of quarterly results from Macy’s and other retailers.</p></p><p><p>The S&amp;P 500 rose 1.3% as of 10:11 a.m. Eastern and is solidly in the green for the week following a choppy few days of trading.</p></p><p><p>The Dow Jones Industrial… ... Continue Reading

Big tech deals keep coming: Broadcom buys VMware for $61B

<p><p>Computer chip and software maker Broadcom will spend about $61 billion to acquire the cloud technology company VMware, one of the biggest deals of the year despite an environment of rising inflation and economic uncertainty.</p></p><p><p>The proposed deal comes just weeks after billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered to spend $44 billion on Twitter and… ... Continue Reading

One dead in early morning house fire in Spokane's Emerson Garfield neighborhood

<p><p>One person is dead after an early morning house fire consumed a home in Spokane’s Emerson Garfield neighborhood. </p></p><p><p>Firefighters were dispatched to the 1311 block of West Grace Avenue at 2:30 a.m. and arrived within three minutes, according to a news release from the Spokane Fire Department. </p></p><p><p>Crews discovered heavy fire at the front of the house, endangering nearby homes. Firefighters entered the home and searched both the first and second floors for occupants . </p></p><p><p>During the search, firefighters found one adult dead near an exit. </p></p><p><p>Firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to nearby homes and extinguished it about 40 minutes. </p></p><p><p>The cause of the fire was under investigation early Thursday morning. </p></p> ... Continue Reading

In the driver's seat: Total Artificial Heart recipient receives two donated organs

<p><p>Greg Soumokil has returned to the driver’s seat, navigating again toward bucket list goals – and soon – the family boat with a new decal on the stern: “No bad days.”</p></p><p><p>It’s a motto he used when battling heart failure, and it’s now a fitting message for recovery and a return to daily pursuits.</p></p><p><p>“It’s kind of… ... Continue Reading