'07 forecasts: The economy appears to be in decent shape, according to the flood of annual projections. The WSJ's survey of economists expect the housing slowdown to create only limited problems (a view held by many analysts), while the service sector should continue to do well. On average, the economists predict that inflation-adjusted gross domestic product will grow at an annualized rate of 2.3 percent in the first half of 2007 and 2.8 percent in the second half - OK but not great. (Note: WSJ.com is free today for non-subscribers, part of the paper's promotional efforts in rolling out a major redesign of the print edition.) Also: The NYT talks to several economists who sound cautiously optimistic about the year, though housing remains a concern.
Disney.com: Both the NYT and WSJ offer previews of the overhauled Disney.com site, which is expected to be introduced by CEO Robert Iger at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. The company's main Web page has been considered clunky and even amateurish and Iger has made the overhaul a priority. It's taken more than a year. From the WSJ:
Having made his mark so far as Disney's CEO by pushing an aggressive vision for the digital world, Mr. Iger sees the new site as a central hub for Disney programming. While he won't go as far as to say that Disney.com will replace existing forms of distribution such as cable television and DVDs, it is clear the site is heading in that direction. In the meantime, it will offer "great opportunities for advertising, direct sales and commerce," he says.
Minimum wage news: California's minimum wage is raised (as of yesterday) to $7.50 an hour from $6.75. Next year it hits $8. This year's hike means that a typical MW worker will make an additional $1,560 in wages, though there's still some grumbling that the increased minimum does not include provisions for automatic indexing. Star-News
Compromise on Living Wage?: The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce will be talking to the mayor's office this week about trying to resolve the wage dispute involving LAX airports without putting the matter before voters in May. A ballot referendum is in the works to overturn a city ordinance that forces a dozen hotels to pay the city-mandated Living Wage. Much of the concern by business groups centers on whether the LAX wage hike would set a precedent for wage mandates in other areas. Business Journal
LAT forecast: The paper's business section goes out on a limb each year with predictions for the media and tech industries. This time out, the list includes the Chandler family buying Tribune Co. and Rupert Murdoch buying Dow Jones & Co., owner of the WSJ. The Chandler selection might be just a guess, but it will get folks wondering whether the paper knows something about the Tribune Co. fire sale that the rest of us don't.
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian (6:55 and 9:55) includes the outlook for the local economy, housing prices, the movie box office and the L.A. Times.