As a citizen of the Eastside and, well, a citizen of the world, China’s economy affects you more than you might think. This is for a couple reasons: it’s big — a billion more people live there than in the U.S. — and two, it’s rapidly industrializing.

The speed at which China’s economy grows, however, is measured on a scale all its own. In 2014, its gross domestic product grew 7.3 percent; the growth rate is expected to be 6.9 percent in 2015. These are huge numbers for such a huge country — the U.S. GDP grew 2.4 percent in 2014. But it’s the slowdown in China’s growth that has global markets tumbling and, if it persists, could broadly affect global economic development.

China’s manufacturing health affects global energy demand and the availability and prices of goods. As Chinese companies grow, there’s more demand for products from service-based economies like those in the U.S. Growing populations require more food, a boost for global agriculture. Affluence in China helps drive real estate markets in cities like Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Seattle-Eastside.

As China has struggled of late, global markets have, too. The best explanation thus far of China’s recent market problems, and the possible ramifications, comes from The New Yorker‘s John Cassidy. In his piece, he explains that two problems face China. The first could be a relatively simple fix: stabilizing its young stock market, which is behaving similar to how the U.S. market performed in its infancy. The second problem is not so easy to fix. Cassidy writes:

“…the real challenge is dealing with the rest of the economy. After more than two decades of tremendous growth, practically everybody acknowledges that China faces some serious problems: chronic overcapacity in many manufacturing industries; very high levels of debt, particularly in the corporate sector; the aftermath of a real-estate bubble in some parts of the country; and a rapid demographic transition that means the working-age population is now declining. Based on the history of other rapidly growing developing countries, a full-on bust would appear to be a real threat.”

Sounds like fun.


VR’s gaining steam

An attendee of the SEA VR conference on Oct. 28, 2015 gets a demonstration of Envelop VR's immersive computing platform. Photo by Jake Bullinger

An attendee of the SEA VR conference on Oct. 28, 2015 gets a demonstration of Envelop VR’s immersive computing platform. Photo by Jake Bullinger

Bellevue-based Envelop VR closed a $5.5 million Series A round this week with money from Madrona Venture Group and GV. The sum isn’t mind-boggling, but it’s significant because of what Envelop does. Rather than creating short entertainment clips or games, Envelop builds immersive computing environments. Essentially, it wants to bring mundane office tasks like Excel spreadsheets and web browsing to VR.

Considering VR’s possible effect on the entertainment industry can provide some context here. In a Q&A, documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog said he is “convinced that (VR) is not going to be an extension of cinema or 3D cinema or video games. It is something new, different, and not experienced yet.”

His sentiment speaks to a larger question: Will VR be a tool, or an entirely new platform and medium in which we operate?


I didn’t win the lottery

Neither did you, so we can share in the disappointment that we missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars. I also know there are plenty of Eastsiders who bought tickets with me, thanks to this nifty graphic from The Seattle Times.

The map charts lottery ticket sales by ZIP code, and Renton in particular was a lottery hot spot. Between Nov. 4 and Wednesday — the period during which the Powerball jackpot swelled to $1.5 billion — $278,000 worth of lottery tickets were purchased in the 98057 ZIP code. By comparison, West Bellevue’s 98004 ZIP saw about $205,000 in lottery tickets sold.

Folks spent heavily, but no Washingtonian won. That might be a good thing, considering lottery winners tend to have a tough time after striking it rich.


Elsewhere on the Web

It’s probably legal to mine asteroids, which is good for Planetary Resources.

Boeing and its engineering union seem to not hate each other, which is good for both parties.

An ample supply of parking seems to encourage driving, which is good for the Bellevue Collection but might not be so good for Bellevue.

Rainier beer is going to be brewed in Washington again, which is good for Rainier fans and (maybe) the Redhook brewery and (maybe) Redhook’s parent company.

Kymeta landed a $62 million funding round to help build satellite antennas, which is good for Kymeta.