Market a little higher: Nothing to write home about after yesterday's drubbing, but the Dow is up about 50 points.
Living a dream: Economic historian Niall Ferguson maintains, with some justification, that mainsteam economists have failed to understand or appreciate most every aspect of the financial crisis. From The Australian (via Clusterstock):
There were the people calling the bottom of the recession by the middle of this year. There were the people claiming India and China would be the engines of recovery. There were the people more worried about inflation than deflation. And, above all, there were the people trusting John Maynard Keynes would save us. I heard almost no criticism of the $US800 billion ($1.2trillion) stimulus package then making its way through Congress (and mutating as it went into something more like a pork barrel). The general assumption seemed to be that practically any kind of government expenditure would be beneficial, provided it was financed by a big deficit. There is something desperate about the way people on both sides of the Atlantic are clinging to their dog-eared copies of Keynes's General Theory.
Big drop in gas prices: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $2.146, down almost 11 cents from last week, according to the government's survey. Up until last week, prices had been on a steady climb because refiners cut back on production for the state.
Virgin stores to close: As reported by TheWrap, the six remaining locations will shut down by this summer. That includes the store in Hollywood (West Hollywood was shuttered a while back). Besides store employees, about 100 corporate staff members in L.A. will lose their jobs.
Big solar deal: Financially troubled OptiSolar Inc. is selling its portfolio of unfinished solar farms to Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar for $400 million. The sale gives Hayward-based OptiSolar a way to make good on its current contracts. From the LAT:
Launched in 2005, the privately owned company manufactures its own thin-film photovoltaic panels to supply solar farms that it planned to develop and manage. But fallout from the economic crisis put a dent in those plans. OptiSolar last month fired 290 employees -- nearly half its workforce -- after it failed to secure financing to complete a planned expansion of a manufacturing facility in Sacramento. OptiSolar is seeking government loan guarantees under the recently approved federal stimulus plan to get the company moving again, spokesman Alan Bernheimer said.
More red ink for Live Nation: The Bev Hills concert company (the one that could be merging with Ticketmaster) posted a fourth-quarter loss of $338 million, much of it resulting from what's known as a goodwill impairment. That's when a company acknowledges a drop in its intangible assets - in this case a falling stock price. (AP)
Lacter on radio: This morning's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian covers L.A. County job losses in January and the troubles facing local car dealerships. Also at kpcc.org and on podcast.