Monday morning headlines

Market falling fast: The Dow is down more than 300 points in early trading. Several key economic reports due out this week are expected to be weak, including November's unemployment numbers.

Mixed holiday sales: Not nearly as bad as some had feared, but only because retailers were forced to slash prices on Black Friday. Sales appear to have slowed on Saturday, which means that shoppers might just go after big markdowns. This, of course, won't help the bottom line. (NYT)

Redstone sells stake: The L.A. billionaire is dumping his shares in the videogame company Midway Games in order to deal with $1.6 billion in debt at his family holding company, National Amusements. The sale will result in a big loss, but Redstone picks up a hefty tax benefit. From the WSJ:

The sale of the Midway stake marks the end of a tumultuous investment for Mr. Redstone. He poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the company, only to see his investment fizzle as the company failed to create new hit games and its stock collapsed. Mr. Redstone's stake had a market value of just $30 million Friday, but he sold it for a huge discount to even that -- a condition of finding a buyer quickly and completing a deal this year.

No car sales, no tax revenue: Through October, nearly 2 million fewer cars and trucks were sold in California compared with a year earlier. That works out to at least $2 billion in lost sales taxes, one big explanation for the state's budget shortfall. From the LAT:

Although the bulk of sales taxes go to state coffers, a significant portion stays local, divided between county and municipal governments. In Orange County, 12 dealers have closed since Jan. 1, compared with only one for all of last year, said John Sackrison, executive director of the Orange County Automobile Dealers Assn. As a result, automotive sales tax collections in the county declined $3.5 million in the second quarter, triple the shortfall in any other category, according to Hdl.

SAG, studios blast each other: Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg accused the media companies of harping on the bad economy ("Like it's our fault," he said), while in an open letter eight Hollywood CEOs accused SAG of being elitist. The actors union plans to take a strike authorization vote this month. (Variety)

J&J buys Mentor: The Santa Barbara-based maker of the MemoryGel breast implant is being acquired for $1.07 billion. Johnson & Johnson’s offer of $31 a share is a 92 percent premium to Mentor’s closing stock price on Friday. Mentor's key competitor is Irvine-based Allergan. (AP)

More money for HuffPost: Silicon Valley VC firm Oak Investment Partners is handing over $25 million to the popular online site. That's $10 million more than previously reported. HuffPost is now valued “south of $100 million,” a source tells Kara Swisher at Boomtown.

More by Mark Lacter:
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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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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