Monday morning headlines

Wall Street worries: The growing list of firms that were snookered by Bernard Madoff is one reason for concern, along with uncertainty over an auto bailout. The Dow is down more than 100 points in early trading. (AP)

Gas party over?: Oil prices are up sharply this morning as OPEC expects to announce a big production cut later this week. Those planned cuts sometimes don't materialize, but they're getting the market's attention. (AP)

Commercial property slump: It's still not nearly as bad as residential, but it's bad enough. The value of offices, warehouses and shopping malls keeps dropping. Of course, the bad times mean lower rents (if you can afford them). From the LAT:

Owners of all types of commercial real estate including hotels have been smacked by the international credit crunch and financial downturn, said Wayne Ratkovich, chairman of the Los Angeles branch of the Urban Land Institute, an industry trade group. And the grief is widespread. "It's a pretty gloomy forecast no matter where you go," said Ratkovich, who is also a Los Angeles developer and landlord. "It's hard to find optimism out there." The bottom of the market is six to 12 months away, according to almost half of the respondents to a recent Urban Land survey. An additional third of the professionals including developers, lenders, brokers and architects were more bearish, guessing that the bottom could be as far away as two years.

The high cost of L.A.: The city ranks as one of the 10 most expensive places in the country to do business, according to the new Kosmont-Rose Institute survey. As in years past, L.A. businesses must deal with a high fee and tax structure that is only likely to get worse next year. The least costly city in the county is Westlake Village. (Daily News)

Singleton explains himself: But it's not exactly a mea culpa. The chairman of MediaNews tells the NYT that his timing was a tad off in buying all those California newspapers. "If we could have foreseen the current economic downturn in the state, he says, it might have changed our views, but we couldnt foresee that." He also says that in the long run, California particularly the Bay Area is the place to be.

New trucking regulations: The California Air Resources Board voted to require trucks after 2011 to reduce emissions, and nearly all vehicles must be upgraded by 2014. From the WSJ:

The air board's actions are followed closely by experts outside California. Other states often piggyback off California's detailed regulatory process, and once manufacturers make changes for the state, it's easier to do the same elsewhere. Many technologies required by California later became standard nationwide, such as catalytic converters, which the state required in the 1970s. Trucking groups argued that the cost of the rules approved Friday, about $5.4 billion, amounts to an excessive burden when the economy is mired in recession and truck revenues have dropped.

SAG meets in NY: Tonight's Town Hall meeting is likely to be more rancorous than the session held in L.A. last week. NY representatives of the Screen Actors Guild want to call off the strike authorization efforts - and have the negotiating committee replaced. An emergency national board meeting is set for Friday and the NY folks are required to attend in person. (Variety)


More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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Previous story: Madoff losses spread

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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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