Market sinking: The Dow is down over 150 points in early trading and the numbers might get worse depending on how Wall Street reacts to the stunning loss of 533,000 jobs in November.
Delinquencies on the rise: One in 10 Americans fell behind on their mortgage payments or were in foreclosure during the third quarter, with California and Florida having the worst numbers. Not surprisingly, subprimers had the highest delinquency rates. (Bloomberg)
Downey summation: The Newport Beach thrift, seized by regulators last month, gets examined one more time by Forbes. For better or worse, the place had been run with an iron hand by CEO and founder Mac McAlister.
Downey investors would have had a tough time stopping McAlister. He never held conference calls with Wall Street analysts. McAlister hired and fired chief executives every 18 months on average, finally picking his former son-in-law for the post. Downey's board included his daughter and personal physician. Five years ago, board members warned McAlister that negative-amortization loans, in which the principal balance goes up, not down, sounded dodgy. He dismissed their concerns.
Layoff roundup: Kevin had the news about cuts at the Hollywood reporter (here's the Variety story). Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune fired more than a dozen newsroom employees, including both of the NY-based correspondents. More jobs are expected to be cut next month. (CBS2 Chicago)
Bratz update: So Mattel has won the battle over control of the pouty-lipped doll. What now? Isaac Larian, CEO of Bratz-maker MGA, tells the LAT that he's ready to talk to the El Segundo-based toymaker. About what exactly is unclear. Some sort of royalty arrangement? No word from Mattel. From the WSJ:
While Mattel-made Bratz dolls could prove lucrative for the company, they carry the risk of cannibalizing Barbie sales and even undermining Barbie's "good girl" image. Still, Mattel already shares shelf space with products it licenses from other companies, including Walt Disney Co. And while Bratz sales have been declining, the dolls will produce an estimated $300 million in revenue this year for MGA.
Toymakers settle lead suit: Mattel is among the companies that have agreed to pay $1.8 million in connection with allegations that they manufactured products containing toxic lead (bet they're quaking in their boots on this one). The suits were filed last year after recalls of toys being imported from China. From the Daily Breeze:
In addition to El Segundo-based Mattel and its Fisher-Price subsidiary, the other companies participating in the settlement are RC2, A&A Global Industries, Cranium Inc., Eveready Battery Co., Marvel Entertainment, Toy Investments, Kids II and Amscam. The settlement includes a $548,500 civil penalty, while $551,727 will go to establish a Toy Testing and Outreach Fund. The fund will aid in monitoring the companies' compliance with lead limitations and help with outreach in the case of a recall.
Viacom's problem: Part of the company's weakness, says the WSJ's Martin Peers, is MTV, where viewership has been falling at an increasing rate. For October and November, viewers aged 12 to 34 dropped 22 percent. Viacom just announced more than 800 job cuts.
Gas still sinking: The average price of regular in the L.A. area is $1.912 per gallon, which is almost 20 cents less than last week, according to the new Auto Club survey. Oil, meanwhile, is hovering around $42 a barrel. That's getting close to $100 less than it was trading for around mid-year.