Wednesday morning headlines

Prices plummet: Well, at least we don't have to worry about inflation. October consumer prices fell by the largest amount in 61 years, much of it from those plunging gas prices. Even excluding energy, core consumer prices dropped for the first time in more than a quarter century. Of course, the new problem might be deflation. From Bloomberg:

Deflation could worsen what some economists already call the deepest recession in decades, by making debts harder to pay off and countering the impact of Fed rate cuts. "We are moving into an environment where prices are falling across the board," David Resler, chief economist at Nomura Securities International Inc. in New York, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. ``That is going to continue. Deflation is spreading across the economy.''

Home for the holidays: Look for Thanksgiving air travel to drop by 10 percent from a year ago, leading to the unusual circumstance of holiday fare cuts. Overall travel is expected to fall for the first time in six years. (LAT)

MOCA in trouble: The Museum of Contemporary Art, which has been draining its reserves to pay operating expenses, is at the point where there's talk of merging with another institution. From the LAT:

Unlike the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is partly controlled by the county, MOCA receives minimal government funding. Its annual budget has grown to exceed $20 million, but it relies on donors to pay about 80% of its expenses. When the gifts have fallen short, as they have more often than not during Strick's nine-year tenure, the museum has gone into its savings.

Auto show opens: The annual conclave at L.A. Convention Center is getting lots more attention than usual because of all the bankruptcy/bailout talk. GM and Chrysler have sharply scaled back their involvement while most of the show talk centers on low sales and massive financial losses. From MSNBC:

Aside from the financial considerations, the Big Three’s executives are likely to keep their heads down in Los Angeles, given the ongoing debate in the Senate and the state of crisis facing the industry, said Rebecca Lindland, an automotive analyst with consultancy IHS Global Insight. “It’s really hard to throw a party when you’re dying, and of course it’s not really appropriate” said Lindland. “These companies are in the throes of throes of chemotherapy right now, so they need to walk a fine line between being excited about new products and respecting the very difficult circumstances they find themselves in.”

Mitt Romney on auto bailout: The former Republican presidential candidate would rather see tighter pay for unionized workers and top management thrown out. In a NYT oped, he also urges the companies to be better about investing for the future.

If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

New date for "Soloist": The long-delayed story of a homeless musician on L.A.'s Skid Row will open April 24 instead of March 13. The film had originally been slated for release this year. (Variety)

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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
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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