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Seattle is not lacking in iconic images: Pike Place Market, Smith Tower, the skyline across Elliott Bay, the waterfront Ferris wheel, rain (Don’t move here, climate-stressed Southwesterners, it rains all the time). Most of all we’re known by the Space Needle, the timeless gift of the 1962 World’s Fair. The Needle is now getting its biggest facelift since opening.

But is anything timeless in this age of 2-minute attention spans? Now comes Amazon’s Spheres, at the heart of its massive headquarters complex. As my colleague Matt Day reported, this cutting-edge architecture also offers a beguiling interior of plants, “many native to the cloud forests of Central America or Southeast Asia.” The exterior was the go-to photo for media around the country seeking to depict the headquarters Seattle got for free, while their communities were willing to pay big to win Amazon’s HQ2.

I can hear the mossbacks objecting, but Amazon is the city’s biggest employer, and driver of many changes, like them or not, that have redefined Seattle. It’s also at street level and will eventually be opened on a limited scale to the public at a time when skyscrapers are cutting off the view of the Needle.

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This Week’s Links:

Trade wars are for losers | Stephen Roach

Blockchain’s broken promises | Nouriel Roubini

The heightened risks of a U.S. downturn | Martin Feldstein

The housing crash and wealth inequality | NEBR

How Mick Mulvaney is dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau | Washington Post

The U.S. can no longer hide from its deep-poverty problem | Angus Deaton


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Trump’s speech at Davos

Plenty of lies for the toffs

Tax cuts speak sweetly