Thursday, May 2, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Stephen Dunphy / Times staff columnist

The Newsletter

Country to watch: India. Mic Dinsmore, executive director of the Port of Seattle, told a conference on Asia here recently that India may be poised to become another trade giant in Asia.

Dinsmore said India was one of the port’s fastest-growing trading partners, although the totals are still relatively small. But Dinsmore said “India has the potential to advance in position as one of our strongest trading partners.” The double-digit gross-national-product growth of the 1990s may be gone, Dinsmore said, but he still sees GDP in India advancing this year by 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent next year.

Dinsmore was generally upbeat about the prospects for Asia, with Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, already coming out of recession as the U.S. economy recovers.

China should grow about 7 percent this year and 7.5 percent next year, but, “China will be dealing with the question of how to rein in the pace of growth and control debt,” he said, noting its rapid successes are exacting a big social price.

Japan remains a problem, especially since it commands such a strong position in Asia as the region’s largest economy.

Dinsmore called Japan “vulnerable,” with concerns about whether “it can save itself from its political impotence, reform its financial structure and lead the other Asian economies.”

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Some good signs in the air-cargo industry. Total domestic air-cargo volume fell in March by the smallest percentage in more than a year, according to the Air Transport Association, an industry trade group.

Not counting mail, freight and air express was up in March, gaining 3.6 percent, the first increase in more than a year. Restrictions on commercial aircraft carrying mail that weighs more than about a pound cut mail traffic by 47 percent, creating an overall loss of 4.7 percent.

International traffic was down 10.5 percent in March. Total air cargo dropped 7.6 percent. That was the 14th month in a row for a decline in cargo traffic but compares with a drop of 9.6 percent in February and double-digit declines in most of the months since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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The stock market liked what it saw the past few days, posting another triple-digit gain yesterday to go with one the day before. Boeing has been a big contributor, gaining $4 a share this week to $45.50.

But like a Seattle sunny day, the upbeat mood might not last long.

Up next to confound watchers of the economy will be tomorrow's employment report. While the experts crow about an economic revival — especially since the big jump in gross domestic product reported last week — workers keep waiting for a rebound in the still-soft job market.

The April unemployment rate is expected to rise slightly to 5.8 percent from 5.7 percent in March as manufacturers remain reluctant to add employees. Payroll jobs should increase by 50,000 slots, about the same as last month, but the overall job market remains subdued.

• • •

Calendar item: It's not often you get a Nobel Prize-winning economist talking about personal finance. But William Sharpe, a former UW professor, will speak about major developments in finance and personal financial-planning issues after receiving the UW Business School Achievement Award at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Husky Union Building Auditorium. Sharpe, a Stanford University professor, received the Nobel Prize in 1990.

Stephen H. Dunphy's columns appear Tuesday-Friday and Sunday. Phone: 206-464-2365. Fax: 206-382-8879. E-mail:


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