Housing market still down: The widely followed S&P/Case-Shiller index shows that L.A. home prices in March were down 21.7 percent from a year earlier. That's not quite as bad as places like Vegas and Miami (26 percent and 25 percent, respectively), but it's bad enough. Charlotte, N.C. was the only city sampled to post a year-over-year increase in prices. S&P/CS uses a different methodology than other research firms in determining prices. Here's the S&P release and here's the Bloomberg story.
AFTRA close to a deal?: That seems to be the sentiment, and a tentative agreement between the actors union and the studios and networks could happen as early as today. LAT says a new contract could be modeled on the WGA agreement in February. That means increases in residual payments for movies and TV shows sold online. But there's still no word on how the clips of actors are to be used online, which has been a big stumbling block.
Oil takes a dip: Light, sweet crude for July delivery fell as low as $129.40 a barrel this morning. There's supposedly new concern about a drop in demand, but with so many cross-currents going on (continued demand overseas, limited supplies, falling dollar, role of speculators), it's hard know what to make of a price decline. (AP)
Why did Bear Stearns fail? The WSJ takes a detailed look at what led to the collapse, reporting that before its desperation sale to JP Morgan it tried at least six times to raise billions of dollars - and considered selling a stake to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. But the firm's senior executives were at odds over what to do.
Many who lived through the seven tense months before the deal say Bear Stearns imploded because it was at war with itself. Buffeted by the most treacherous market forces in a generation and hobbled by indecision, the firm's leaders missed opportunities that might have been able to save the 85-year-old brokerage.
Why CEOs stay on? Would you believe there's often no one to take their place? That's the finding of a new Booz & Co. study. There has been an increase in firings in recent years, but CEOs whose shareholder returns fell 25 percent while significantly underperforming peers had only a 5.7 percent chance of being ousted the following year. From the WSJ:
In another sign of insufficient succession planning, the Booz study found that North American and European boards keep hiring outsiders as CEOs "even though they consistently underperform CEOs who rose through the ranks." Outsiders also tend to step down sooner than insiders. For the years covered by the analysis, about 20% of the CEOs hired were outsiders. The study suggested that boards could improve their selection of future chief executives through a comprehensive approach of identifying future leaders, giving them varied experience and moving them up through the organization.
Weak month for papers: Goldman Sachs estimates that April newspaper ad revenue was down 10.7 percent from a year earlier, with classified advertising taking a 20.3 percent hit. Goldman says the second half of 2008 might be better, but only because of easier comparisons with 2007. (Silicon Alley Insider)
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian covers the Mattel-MGA trial and the latest executive compensation numbers. Also available at kpcc.org or on podcast.