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Thursday, February 16, 2012

More export babble

The Trib warms over the press release that the PBJ already warmed over on Tuesday, here. We stand on our question of yesterday: What more are we going to export, Jim? Solar panels? Windmills? More silicon chips? Surely a phone call or two would have turned up an economist who's skeptical about the prospect of doubling exports of Oregon-made anything. Portland will be lucky to hold on to what it's got.

Comments (6)

It is my understanding that some major renovation are being made to the Panama Canal so that it can take larger vessels. If that is the case it will be interesting to see what the impact is on the West Coast ports for both imports and exports.

We'll export beer, or course. IPAs, of which there are several outstanding styles made here, were initially designed for transcontinental shipping.

SoloPower, which Wilsonville blocked by refusing to hand over some $11 million in urban renewal funds, and which subsequently ran to Portland, where Scam greeted them with open arms and a $40 million check, is "revolutionary": its thin-film photovoltaics are adhered directly to sheets of stainless steel, which can then be incorporated directly into the roofing composition.

ECD, of Auburn Michigan, had the same "business model" and technology. They filed Chapter 11 earlier this week. Their stock was $1.46 at Monday's close; by 11:30 Tuesday morning, it was 30 cents a share.

It seems to me that Portland has quadrupled exports of cash (at least, when compared to Wilsonville).

A lot, if not most, of what Portland exports is not made here.

I just looked at the 2011 exports (from the Port, not counting PDX) and $1.6 billion in fertilizers and inorganic chemicals were shipped from Portland (that is Canadian potash and Wyoming soda ash). The port exported about $2.4 billion in grain and oil seeds produced way east of the city. Those are the top items. Next highest was $361 million in iron and steel (a lot of it scrap) and about $80 million each in copper and aluminum. The metro area does not refine either non-ferrous metal.

Overall, exports are way up, but price increases are the main cause, not higher volumes. When wheat jumps from $3.50 to $7.00 your exports double.

Still, trade supports many jobs in Portland and without it, the economy would be much worse. Doubling in five years is too optimistic. But some growth is possible and beneficial to the labor force here.

If hot air and bull***t could be exported, Portland would be the capital of the world.

Then no one could say government produces nothing...

Portland's major exports are and will continue to be: Tax-paying citizens, and the tax-paying employers who hire them.

I frequently call downtown the Empty Quarter. Not because nobody is around, but due to how none of this activity seems to generate any revenue. What will this city do for money? You can parse that question either way...

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