Fire impact: It's still way too early to know. But in case you're wondering about the economic effects, it's worth noting that the 1993 "superfire" destroyed 268 homes, almost all of which have been rebuilt (or whose owners have rebuilt nearby). Weird as it sounds, fires can actually provide an economic boost for the construction industry (not to mention furniture retailers and landscape architects). There's typically little impact on prices. (cbs2)
Wall Street worries: As expected, the Dow took a big hit at the opening, falling more than 100 points. But it has since recovered a bit. There's still concern about housing, of course, but now corporate profits are getting the attention of investors (keep in mind that the group of DJ stocks includes a bunch of financial issues that have brought down the index). Overseas markets slumped today, though that was more the result of Friday's big drop in the U.S. markets. (Bloomberg)
Banks on lending binge: First the good news: They're loaning money to businesses at the fastest rate in more than 30 years. This is good because it provides some energy to the economy and shows that there's still plenty of money to lend. But here's the bad part: A lot of the lending comes from commitments made before the credit crunch - and now, after the billions of dollars in losses reported, there will be lots more scrutiny on new borrowing requests. From the WSJ:
Nationwide, commercial and industrial lending -- the critical loans that fund corporate activities like share buybacks and plant expansion -- has risen at an astounding 52% annual rate since late July, and overall U.S. bank balance sheets have increased at a 22% annual rate, according to Federal Reserve data. For commercial and industrial lending, it is the fastest growth rate for an 11-week period in more than 30 years. Regional banks, in particular, have had significant increases in lending. Fifth Third Bancorp, for example, said commercial-and-industrial lending rose 7% in the third quarter from a year earlier, even as other loan growth slowed. The problem is, in many cases, banks never expected to make these loans. They had extended backup credit lines to such companies as tax preparer and mortgage lender H&R Block Inc. In August, when H&R Block, which has struggled to rid itself of its subprime-lending unit, couldn't borrow in the securities markets, it tapped $850 million of the $2 billion credit line it has with a group of banks to meet its cash needs, calling the banks "a more stable source of funds."
NFL nixes Coliseum: The league told L.A. officials three months ago that a pro football team will not be coming to the Coliseum, but nobody bothered to announce the news. NFL Vice President Neil Glat said league owners think the economic risks are too great for the league to commit $1 billion to renovate the Coliseum, according to the Daily News. Coliseum officials are still hopeful that an interested owner might consider the venue.
Rumors of the exchange surfaced over the summer, but officials refused to disclose details out of apparent concern that a deal with the NFL was still possible and that any release of information would quash potential options. "Unfortunately, notwithstanding all of our best efforts to identify a mutually acceptable solution, we have determined that the Coliseum renovation project as currently contemplated would create significant economic risks for the NFL, such that we are not prepared to move forward with the project at this point," Glat wrote in the July18 letter.
Battle with Museum of Tolerance: The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been wanting to expand its museum, with plans calling for the addition of a two-story, 45-foot-high building that will take up almost all the space of a memorial garden. But the neighbors are not happy, noting that memorial garden was designated as a 100-foot buffer zone to shield residents from the noise. A petition is being circulated urging city authorities to deny all of the Wiesenthal Center's requests and to charge the institution with violating its current conditional use permit. From the Jewish Journal:
The dispute goes as far back as 1977, when the City Planning Commission approved a 10-year plan for the yeshiva, followed in 1986 by protracted negotiations on the size and operations of the Museum of Tolerance. New friction arose between 1994 and 1999, but for the last eight years, relations have been relatively smooth, though Gans complained about tight security measures when foreign dignitaries, such as the late Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, visit the museum. "Streets are blocked off, sharpshooters are stationed on roofs, helicopters fly overhead and secret servicemen knock on your door," she said.
MySpace reality: The Fox-owned social networking site launches a Web show called "Roommates," described in the LAT as about "several underdressed young women who make ends meet by starring in a reality show about underdressed young women." "We are entering the creation business," said Jeff Berman, general manager of MySpace TV. "There are certainly more to come. We'll see how we do."