Housing turnaround: Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said the U.S. economy had gone through a weak patch during the summer because of declines in housing and construction, but the worst appears to be over, calling the outlook "reasonably good." That was more of less the message offered earlier in the week by Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo, who told analysts "We've already had the hard landing." He expects the mortgage market to tread water in 2007 and then rebound sharply in 2008.
Speaking of summer...: The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 1.6 percent during the third quarter, well under expectations of 2.2 percent, and that has the stock market heading south this morning. The second quarter grew at a 2.6 percent rate and the first at 5.6 percent. Housing was the main cause for the slowdown.
On the local front: The San Fernando Valley's economy will show limited growth through 2008 but still outpace Los Angeles County as a whole, according to a report out of Cal State Northridge. Retail and entertainment pretty much rule the roost. One cause for concern: a decline in the number of Valley hospitals over the past decade.
No worries on gasoline: Quite the contrary. Gas prices have fallen so rapidly in California during the past two-and-a-half months that motorists are now paying less than folks in Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. That almost never happens. The weekly Auto Club survey has the average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area at $2.468, which is 6.2 cents lower than last week, 33 cents lower than last month, and 37 cents lower than last year.
SEC slacking off?: The Securities and Exchange Commission has seen a three-year decline in the number of enforcement actions and a 10 percent drop from last year. As you might expect, there's talk about about the SEC playing favorites - so much so that congressional investigators are looking into the numbers.
Tribune update: LAT finds little enthusiasm among several investment groups looking at Tribune Co. - at least not enough to offer much of a premium over the current stock price (it's a bit under $34). That has renewed the speculation about the company being broken up in pieces. "I just think there is a sort of malaise over newspapers right now. That is the biggest concern," an executive at the Blackstone Group told the paper. Blackstone is the monster private-equity firm that bought into the OC Register's parent company. Be warned: Everybody is speculating about everything on this, and it's worth noting that many of the speculators in the Times story are unnamed.
Too much media?: First Univision and now maybe Tribune and Clear Channel. Will a handful of private-equity giants find themselves at the crosshairs of federal regulators for owning too much in too many of the same markets? Apparently, there are ways of getting around the regulations - setting up a limited partnership, for example - though the whole idea behind private-equity is to play an overseeing role in the acquired company, so any hands-off arrangement kind of ruins the strategy.
Bridal buy: The NY Post is reporting that L.A.-based buyout firm Leonard Green & Partners is close to purchasing the David's Bridal wedding gown chain from Federated Department Stores. Purchase price is expected to be substantially less than the $1 billion that Federated wanted.
Networks nix ads: Both NBC and the CW network are said to have refused to run commercials for the new documentary on the Dixie Chicks and how their careers were derailed after the lead singer made critical remarks about President Bush. Weinstein Co., which is distributing the documentary, "Shut Up & Sing," says that NBC turned down the ads because the network said they were disparaging to President Bush. NBC declined to comment to the LAT and the CW denied that the ads were even turned down.