Wednesday morning headlines

Stocks open lower: Banks are taking a hit this morning after mortgage giant Freddie Mac posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss. Oil is hovering a little over $119 a barrel.

Not that bad: A bunch of economists interviewed by the NYT disagreed on many things, but they generally believe that conditions are far less dire than they were during the Great Depression. Of course, that ain't saying much.

“I think we’ll see a miserable job market and, consequently, an eroded standard of living for the vast majority of Americans for several years,” said Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization in Washington. “This is indistinguishable from a recession for a working family,” Mr. Mishel said. “They’re losing jobs, and they’re getting a double bite as wage growth slows down and inflation kicks up. People are losing out on both ends.”


But others said that the economy would probably grow in the second half of this year, although at a low 1 to 3 percent pace. “You read the headlines and you look around and you think the world is coming to an end,” said Charles W. Calomiris, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group in Washington. “But I don’t think so. If you’re going to tell a worst-case scenario story at this point, it’s only going to be because the Fed loses control."

Ontario's gloomy outlook: The number of passengers using the airport next year could plunge to 5.2 million, from 7.2 million in 2007. Airport officials say that Ontario - and even LAX - are getting hit with reduced schedules because airlines want to concentrate their flights on hub cities. Dumb question: What if oil prices keep falling? From the LAT:

The drop-off could be so severe that one of the airport's two terminals would no longer be needed, a dramatic setback for Ontario's plan to accommodate more than 10 million passengers. More than $275 million was spent building the terminals, which opened in 1998. The gloomy outlook has prompted an L.A. City Council committee that oversees the airports to meet Wednesday to discuss the pending decline in air service at LAX and Ontario as well as potential economic effects. The decline will probably mean higher fares and fewer choices, factors that could discourage even more travelers from choosing Ontario. Many nonstop flights are being eliminated this fall, leaving passengers with little choice but to take a flight with one or two stopovers or drive to LAX.
Rich travels: Bookending the glum picture at Ontario was yesterday’s dog-and-pony show by Emirates Airlines, which is introducing Airbus A380 service to LAX this fall. The airline took 250 freeloaders on a 90-minute demonstration flight up and down the California coastline. Dom Perignon, foie gras, caviar, lobster - the usual deal. There are 14 private suites in first class. (Daily Breeze)

More convention business: We're not talking a stampede, but the city booked 53 future conventions during the just-completed fiscal year, which is a 29 percent increase over 2007. The convention center hotel, still under construction, plus the other Staples-area activity - Nokia theater, LA Live, etc. – are all helping lure business. The new slogan: "Reborn. Remarkable. Downtown L.A." C'mon... stop snickering. (LAT)

Magazines in trouble: The Audit Bureau of Circulations releases its latest newsstand report in a few days, but the NY Post's Keith Kelly is already hearing that the numbers will be terrible. The national magazine distributor CoMag Marketing Group released the results of a survey that found "softness in sales across all editorial categories, retail classes of trade and geography."

More by Mark Lacter:
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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