Market way down: More jitters about the global economy, as well as the growing realization that the Spring run-up has run its course. From this morning's WSJ:
The stock market is stumbling. After a powerful rally that pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average ahead by more than 30% in three months through last week, stocks are clearly having trouble extending their gains. Many analysts see a pullback ahead, and they are debating whether it will be just a temporary annoyance or something bigger and more painful. Indicators of market health, including trading volume, buying demand and trading by companies and corporate insiders, are beginning to flash yellow or red. People also are beginning to question whether the economic fundamentals are strong enough to justify continued gains.
Who loves L.A.?: Four in 10 voters surveyed in an LAT poll say they had seriously considered leaving the city in the last two years. More than a third said they or a member of their immediate family had lost a job; 12 percent said their homes had been foreclosed.
Among the 40% who said they had seriously considered leaving the city, the high cost of housing was by far the most commonly cited reason. Among whites, traffic congestion was the second reason. Blacks and Latinos cited crime second. The poll made clear that large numbers of people in the city have been hurt by the economic recession.
City braces for layoffs: It's unclear how many jobs will be lost and how protracted the process will be. Some city department heads are predicting havoc. From the Downtown News:
"It's going to displace permanently my lowest-cost, most productive employees," said Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager of the Recreation and Parks Department, one of the city's largest departments, with approximately 8,800 full- and part-time employees. He said recreation coordinators and new grounds maintenance people would be hit particularly hard. "They come in at a lower pay scale and their jobs are more critical to the life and maintenance of the parks than a manager sitting at a desk," he said. "I call it the productivity death spiral."
CA welfare rolls jump: The state reported a 10 percent increase in the past year, one of 23 large states seeing higher caseloads. As more folks run out of unemployment compensation, many are turning to welfare as a stopgap. (WSJ)
Ralphs pushing bargains: The supermarket chain, a unit of Kroger, is doing it through house brands (they provide better profit margins) and by using technology to track customers' shopping patterns. From the LAT:
Kroger uses the data to divide the stores of most of its chains into three tiers, and stock them accordingly. The upscale Ralphs store, for example, will have a larger wine selection and won't offer the lowest price "Value" private label goods. A mainstream Ralphs will have a broad mix of goods at varying prices points, while the value store "will be much more focused on price," Dillon said. The system allows Kroger to identify which items matter most to customers when it comes to price and prevents the company from discounting products that would sell at higher prices.
L.A. taxing to tech firms: The city tried to attract Internet and multimedia companies by giving them a lower tax rate, but a number of those businesses are now being told that they don't qualify - and are being billed millions of dollars in additional taxes. From the LAT:
Shopzilla.com, a comparison-shopping website based in West Los Angeles, was slapped with $2.74 million in additional taxes. Now it's considering moving to Santa Monica, a couple of blocks away. "It's a shortsighted view by the city," Shopzilla Inc. President Bill Glass said. "You go 400 yards, you're in Santa Monica. We don't need to be here for any reason. Moving is no small decision, but for that kind of money. . . ."
iPhone scores big: More than a million units of the new model were sold in the first three days. Many of the phones were pre-ordered, eliminating many of the long lines from last year's initial introduction. (AP)