LA Biz Observed archive

Mark Lacter covered business, the economy and more here from 2006 until his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
The entire LA Biz Observed archive — more than 10,000 blog posts by Mark — remains online and available.
March 2008

Woody Allen vs. Dov Charney

American Apparel's CEO used a frame from "Annie Hall" on a company billboard - and he's now being sued for $10 million.

Chatter about Newsday sale

Zell's interest in selling the Long Island newspaper could provide clues on whether he'll eventually put the LAT on the block.

Did U2 snub Diller?

The British band decided on a huge deal with Live Nation, despite Bono showing some interest in Ticketmaster.

Monday morning headlines

Paulson proposes financial reforms, AFTRA to start contract talks, Branson launches service to Australia, and new wrinkle for Marilyn Monroe estate.

Fresh & Easy cools it

The unexpected pause is bound to raise questions about how well - or poorly - the British chain is faring.

Romper room is in session

SAG and AFTRA are behaving like school yard snots, even though no one seems to have the stomach for another strike.

Fixing the mortgage mess

The administration is desperately trying to do something - it just doesn't want to do something.

Superman heirs win ruling

A federal judge in L.A. ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel were entitled to reclaim their share of the copyright.

How UCLA, USC stack up

If this were football, they’d be going to the Gator or Cotton bowls, while Berkeley and Stanford would be BCS teams.

Diller wins court fight

A Delaware judge has ruled against Liberty Media's John Malone in his effort to block breakup plan.

Broadcom tagged again

It gets a little convoluted, but the real question is whether the OC tech firm's co-founders will implicated.

Fremont on its last legs

The feds have given the Brea-based subprimer 60 days to get more capital or find a buyer,

Friday morning headlines

Countrywide president scores, pollution rules slashed, gas inches downward, and Redstone and Cruise break bread.

SABEW awards announced

LAT, OC Register and Bloomberg's L.A. bureau receive top honors from business news organization.

Jeff Zucker: Class act

The CEO of NBC Universal takes snipes at the Writers Guild and the terms of the new contract.

KPMG enabled OC lender

A report says the accounting firm endorsed a move that allowed New Century to report a profit rather than a loss.

American cancels L.A. flights

Repairs are minor - and probably unnecessary - but the recent lapse at Southwest is raising concern at other airlines.

Stocks in extended funk

Here's not the way to make money: The S&P 500 has risen an average of 1.3 percent a year over the past 10 years.

Organizing carwash workers

The L.A. County Federation of Labor and a coalition of community groups are backing the effort.

On assignment

No morning headlines and very limited posting over the next couple of days.

Housing index still down

The L.A. numbers are not the worst in the country - that distinction goes to Miami, Vegas and Phoenix.

Another mortgage scam

The ring-leaders allegedly targeted homeowners in financial trouble through the old "foreclosure rescue" pitch.

KB's good/bad news day

The stock is way up on better-than-expected home sales. But fire destroys part of its Warner Center development.

Countrywide class-action

A group of public pension funds allege that the company's executives collected $900 million from insider trading.

Monday morning headlines

J.P. Morgan ups bid, still-crazy prices for Malibu rentals, new venture for ex-Countrywide president and Univision scores.

Big crowds for NCAA online

CBS reports a huge increase in Web traffic on Day One of March Madness and advertisers have taken note.

Jobless numbers drop

The new report is another sign that the economic impact of the writiers strike was minimal.

Friday morning headlines

Sour market reduces L.A. property taxes, Pellicano trial gets interesting (sort of), and Starbucks baristas win tip dispute.

L.A. gets new truck plan

L.A. harbor commissioners broke ranks with their Long Beach counterparts with a plan that will end the use of independent drivers.

Brad Grey knows nothing

The Paramount head said he had nothing to do with his legal team hiring Pellicano - and he wasn't aware of any wiretapping.

Murdoch may buy Newsday

One insider tells Crain's NY Biz that an offer has been made. Tribune acknowledges that it may have to sell assets.

Alleged fraud outlined

Emmy-winning producer is charged in an alleged scheme to inflate the revenue and stock price of the company he founded.

Thursday morning headlines

Oil plunges to under $100, MGM could face credit crunch, Borders is on the block, and Milberg partner makes plea deal.

Good line in Pellicano trial

Even the judge referred to "lengthy and boring" testimony, though there have been a few zingers directed at the gumshoe.

L.A.'s bad biz boys

Dov Charney faces an SEC inquiry (probably informal), while Joe Francis turns up New Jersey's call girl "gone wild."

An extra $20 for leg room

JetBlue is betting that those extra four inches will be a big deal - and a way to compete with Virgin America.

Another primer on credit crisis

This one sets the right tone - somewhere between the Weekly Reader and the Journal of Economics.

Wednesday morning headlines

Markets chew on good news, SEC looking at Bear, Oxy CEO makes $63.5 million (really more), and plan for cleaner ports.

Allstate must cut rates

The insurance giant says it's being unfairly forced to lower premiums by a larger percentage than other companies.

Strike? What strike?

Most folks are watching the same amount of television as they did during the Writers Guild walkout.

*Fed cuts; market drops

The fed funds rate was reduced from 3 percent to 2.25 percent, its lowest level since December 2004.

Tuesday morning headlines

Market soars and then waits for Fed decision, Bear Stearns shareholders up in arms, and gas prices may be peaking.

Weak cargo figures

February exports are way up from a year ago, but there are still far more containers coming in than going out.

Subprime pioneer is dead

Orange County's Roland Arnall founded what became the largest originator of subprime loans in the country.

Markets settle down

As interest rates on government securities keep falling, some say that stocks are a bit more attractive than before.

Cramer was bullish on Bear

Unfortunately, there's no law against loudmouths who make all kinds of declarations that turn out to be sooooo wrong.

Monday morning headlines

Markets jittery on Bear Stearns news, Supremes takes on indecency case, Boeing lays out complaints, and shakeup at HBO.

Bear bought for $2 a share

J.P. Morgan is buying the venerable Wall Street bank for $236 million. On Friday its market value was $3.5 billion.

Understanding Bear

Some primers on the troubled financial markets and why the Bear Stearns story is really a big deal.

Zell may sell assets

The Tribune Co. CEO, speaking to Baltimore Sun staffers, was sounding more downbeat than at earlier appearances in L.A.

February is big for games

U.S. video game sales — including hardware and software — jumped 34 percent. Local publishers did well.

Fed's not-so-magic act

There's only so much that the nation's central bank can do to stabilize the banks and credit markets.

No wrongdoing in Ritter death

Jurors found that doctors did they everything they could to save the actor’s life. His widow wanted an apology.

Bear Stearns on last legs?

The bank has been in precarious shape for many months now, but concern turned into crisis over the past 24 hours.

Friday morning headlines

Wall Street freaks out over Bear Stearns free fall, another jump in gas prices, and dockworkers to begin contract talks.

*The business of 'Kristen'

Not surprisingly, the big money - high six figures by one estimate - would involve taking her clothes off.

Split decision for Amgen

An FDA panel placed more restrictions on the company's anemia drug, but opposed any outright ban.

LAX to Dubai

Daily nonstop service will begin this fall, another example of the airport's effort to cut deals with international carriers.

WSJ survey shows recession

Last Friday's employment report, which showed a loss of 63,000 jobs in February, clearly changed a lot of minds.

Why are home sales down?

February's declines are at least partly the result of folks who have the ability to buy or sell choosing to stay on the sidelines.

Thursday morning headlines

Financial markets are down, downtown real estate is in the pits, Pellicano's gal brought to tears, and splitsville for Harry Potter.

How not to give testimony

The Chino slaughterhouse owner fails to show up at a hearing, then is subpoenaed, then retracts his prepared remarks.

Southwest scrambling

The airline has had to ground 38 of its 737s, resulting in some cancellations around the country.

Spitzer's other woman

Her real name is Ashley and she doesn't want to be thought of as a monster. "This has been a very difficult time," she says.

Wednesday morning headlines

Spitzer resigns today, slaughterhouse owner denies that unsafe meat was processed, and Amgen drug faces new restrictions.

Airport traffic looks soft

A slowing economy is no doubt behind the lower numbers, but international travel remains strong.

Big day for stocks

Wall Street reacts to the Federal Reserve offering to loan banks $200 billion by accepting mortgage-backed securities as collateral.

Slaughterhouse backstory

Lots of money was invested in the business that's at the center of the largest-ever meat recall - except for one thing.

Tuesday morning headlines

Stocks up after Fed eases lending policies, Spitzer expected to resign, judge reduces Dole damages, and NBC not for sale (we think).

UCLA says no recession

But the drumbeat of bad news runs the risk of having people act as if there were one.

Boeing appeals award

Northrop and the European company that won a $40 billion contract to build refueling tankers, will have to wait several months.

Wall Street sex scandals

There really aren't that many, which might just reflect an "everybody does it" culture.

Murdoch sees ad slowdown

He's become a lot more pessimistic about the economy, while Disney CEO Bob Iger isn't talking.

Another jump in gas prices

Oil surged above $108 a barrel for the first time, another record high, and pump prices are approaching $4 a gallon.

L.A.angle in Spitzer case

The ring had 50 prostitutes available for appointments in L.A., NY, Washington and other cities.

Monday morning headlines

How Northrop won Air Force award, new warnings for Amgen drug, Countrywide stock is down, and Diller and Malone go to court.

SAG meets moguls

The informal session went well or badly, depending on which source you're asking. Meanwhile, Wall Street is taking note.

FBI probes Countrywide

The feds are apparently looking at evidence that may indicate widespread fraud in the origination of mortgages.

NY vs. LA is so...boring

Yet New Yorkers can't seem to get enough of the shop-worn stereotypes that went out with Nehru jackets.

More glossing over

The Socal Singleton papers obviously don't like to deliver bad news, especially about themselves.

Gloom and doom

With 63,000 jobs lost last month, more economists are convinced that we're in a recession - and it could be around a while.

No mea culpas from Angelo

Countrywide's CEO testifies that when he did well his shareholders did well. It's an argument that only goes so far - like 2007.

Friday morning headlines

Jobs report worse than expected, Mozilo grilled on pay package, gas prices are up again, and SAG and AFTRA make nice.

Pellicano trial gets going

Prosecutor argues that the gumshoe's recordings paint a "clear and crystal" picture of shady dealings.

That's our Rocky

Call me crazy, but should the city attorney be thrown a party by the guy who has lobbied the city on billboard-related issues?

Billion-dollar locations

Moscow has the most billionaires, with 74, followed closely by NY (71). L.A. ranks sixth.

Self-fulfilling recession

When you’re on the bubble, it won’t take many scary headlines to push the economy over the edge.

Thursday morning headlines

Movies are more expensive to make, Pellicano jury in place, Air Force takes heat on Northrop deal, and KB CEO gets $24.4 million.

Different kind of rich list

Yes, they are getting richer, thanks to various windfalls made last year. If you dislike the Chandlers, read this with care.

*Diller's dangling empire

It’s way too soon to prepare any corporate obits, but his tone has clearly downshifted. Yes, that Barry Diller.

A different kind of billboard

The Times now has 10 digital signs around town that rotate headline-type content every eight seconds.

Countrywide wins one

A Texas judge stopped short of a fine because he couldn't say whether the company had acted in bad faith or just bungled.

Wednesday morning headlines

State bankruptcy filings are up, Pellicano trial gets started,and more hand-wringing about fabricated memoir.

Sluggish TV ad market

The Olympics and the elections should more or less prop up revenues in 2008. Next year could be another story.

California bonds snapped up

That's what happens when yields on long-term obligation bonds hit 5 percent - higher than Treasuries.

Intrade shows Clinton gains

After Obama whittled down her lead in Texas and Ohio over the past two weeks, his momentum is slowing.

Tuesday morning headlines

Another bad day for stocks, new requirements for appraisers, film shoots delayed because of strike worries, and lawyers sue Regan.

Another fabricated memoir

It turns out that Margaret B. Jones did not grow up in South Central and did not run drugs for gang members.

L.A. gas up again

The longer prices remain high, the more likely you'll see a response. But long-term habits are tough to shake.

MediaNews on 'negative' watch

The concern is that Singleton's company might not make enough money to cover its bank agreements.

How Northrop won contract

The longtime friendship of two guys turned out to be a factor in snagging the $40-billion award from Boeing.

Monday morning headlines

Americans cut back on driving, oil reaches all-time record, Virgin causes fare wars at LAX, and more SAG squabbling.

Glossing over bloodbath

Don't expect to find out what's going on at the Press-Telegram by reading this morning's story.

Buffett's sweetest business

Here's a reminder that despite all the turmoil in the credit markets some industries continue to do well.