Thursday morning headlines

Tough economic news: UPS reported disappointing earnings, new jobless claims rose more than expected, and existing home sales dropped in March.

U.S. urged silence: Fed Chairman Bernanke and ex-Treasury Secretary Paulson pressured Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis not to discuss the plan to buy Merrill Lynch. Normally, that kind of material event would need to be disclosed. From the WSJ:

"Isn't that something that any shareholder at Bank of America...would want to know?" Mr. Lewis was asked by a representative of New York's attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, according to the transcript. "It wasn't up to me," Mr. Lewis said. The BofA chief said he was told by Messrs. Bernanke and Paulson that the deal needed to be completed, otherwise it would "impose a big risk to the financial system" of the U.S. as a whole. Mr. Lewis's testimony suggests how aggressively federal regulators have been willing to behave in their fight to fix the U.S. financial system.

MySpace founders step down: Actually, it's surprising that Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson hung in for as long as they did, especially with the popularity of Facebook and other social networking sites. Some backstory, courtesy of the WSJ, on the early years of MySpace.

Just as MySpace was taking off, fueled in large part by its popularity with musicians, it was sold to News Corp. MySpace's parent company, Intermix, negotiated the $650 million deal directly with News Corp., leaving the MySpace founders out of the loop until the last minute. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch immediately sought to mollify the founders with lucrative two-year pay packages of $30 million each, but Messrs. DeWolfe and Anderson still chafed at the fact that MySpace ad sales were taken over by executives at Fox Interactive Media, according to people familiar with the situation. The rank and file of MySpace was also angry that their stock options were canceled after the acquisition and that they were forced to move from Santa Monica to Beverly Hills, the people said.

Bond sale revives projects: More than $5 billion worth were "Build America Bonds," or BABs, that came from the federal stimulus package. With BABs, government agencies can issue bonds for public works projects and get a 35 percent subsidy of their interest costs from the federal government. From the SF Chronicle:

The turnaround comes more than five months after California's top finance officials, facing dwindling cash in the state's coffers, decided to stop funding more than 5,000 public works projects - including building roads and bridges, renovating hospitals, schools and libraries and restoring wetlands across the state.

LAX traffic nosedives: The number of passengers last month was down 12.6 percent from a year earlier, and international traffic fell 19 percent. It was the 12th straight month of declines, and will likely raise questions about the feasibility of a planned renovation for the Tom Bradley terminal. (LAT).

Broadcom close to deal? Qualcomm has delayed the release of its earnings because the San Diego tech company is in settlement talks with the Irvine-based chipmaker in connection with a long-running patent dispute. From the SD Union-Tribune:

Analysts said they expect negotiations to yield a cross-licensing deal, in which each company gets the rights to the other's technology. Opinions were split on whether either side got the better deal. Because Broadcom has won a number of court victories, some thought Qualcomm had less leverage for negotiating. "Basically Broadcom had them over a barrel," said Michael Cohen, chief executive of MDC Financial Research, which specializes in research on litigation between public companies. "I expect this will be a significant legal win for Broadcom."

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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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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