LA Biz Observed archive

Mark Lacter covered business, the economy and more here from 2006 until his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
The entire LA Biz Observed archive — more than 10,000 blog posts by Mark — remains online and available.
August 2009

Into the 20th Century

SD Union-Tribune finally scraps its old-fashioned paste-up production for a souped-up pagination system.

Mt. Wilson primer

The communications setup isn't just a stray TV antenna or two - it's a monstrous collection of towers, dishes and buildings.

*Still iffy on Mt. Wilson

Several area radio stations without backup sites at other facilities could be especially vulnerable.

*Marvel's $1.4b hero

Whether the acquisition by Disney turns out to be a good move is nothing more than a guess at this early stage.

Monday morning headlines

Disney acquires Marvel, Mt. Wilson threat unclear, Zell might stay on at Tribune, and Apple reportedly under investigation.

Thank you so much

I want to express my appreciation for all the heartfelt expressions of sympathy on the passing of my mom.

LA Biz Observed note

Mark's mother passed away in Plantation, FL at age 96. The site will be dark much of the next week.

Dow gains 82, but...

PIMCO CEO Mohamed El-Erian says the stock rally has hit a wall because valuations are going up more quickly than fundamentals.

*Shakeup at MGM

This can't be a great sign for a company that's been struggling under a heavy debt load, not to mention the weakness of its film business.

Big jump in home sales

July sales in the pricier coastal regions showed some life; median prices were up slightly from June, but down almost 20 percent from a year earlier.

Tuesday morning headlines

Spielberg gets financing, Zell may be ready to call it quits, backdaters who never get caught, and big bucks for LACMA's Govan.

Man the lifeboats!

Here's another example of why it's hard to take Hollywood cost-cutting directives all that seriously.

Chernin's quiet goodbye

News Corp.'s separation deal with former Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin has amazingly little information.

Monday morning headlines

Stocks are falling sharply, port outlook is grim, Tribune creditors look into Zell's LBO, and venture capital firms still look to invest.

Dole to go public

The world's largest producer of fresh fruit and vegetables plans an initial public offering of as much as $500 million.

Friday morning headlines

Videogames take another hit, L.A. hotels are struggling, ground beef recall, and Bill Gross buys OC home for $23 million.

Zell headed out?

Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Tribune Co. creditors are working on a reorganization plan that would essentially break up the company.

Port traffic still down

Retailers remain discouraged about consumer spending, at least judging by the July figures from the Port of Long Beach.

Redeeming IOUs

They'll be available for redemption on Sept. 4, a month earlier than expected. State also needs $10.5 billion in short-term loans to get through the fiscal year.

Revised SD layoffs

The Union-Tribune is letting go another 112 people, not the 200 that had been posted yesterday.

Blue Cross vs. hospitals

If the nation's health care debate ever got around to substantive issues, you might be hearing more stories like this one.

Thursday morning headlines

Real clunkers passed by, CA foreclosure filings still high, questioning Hollywood's victory over China, and KIIS-FM still tops.

Layoffs in San Diego?

Company isn't disclosing the number, but sources tell paidContent that it's about 200. That's on top of an earlier round.

Rocky joins law firm

L.A.'s former City Attorney will be moving to Goodwin Procter as counsel, though he still wants to run for state attorney general.

Fed's wordplay

In holding steady on interest rates, the Federal Reserve came ever so close to saying that the recession is over.

Jump in bankruptcies

L.A. bankruptcy filings for June rose 70.2 percent from a year earlier. OC was up 77.2 percent.

Clunker sales fade

Consumer interest is slowing. Maybe the extra $2 billion from Congress wasn't needed after all.

Madoff closure

CFO Frank DiPascali summed up the Ponzi scheme with the kind of clarity that has been missing up to now.

Wednesday morning headlines

Waiting for the Fed, Kaiser cuts 1,800 jobs, OC resorts are struggling, and Nevada goes after CA businesses.

Wave of foreclosures?

We keep hearing that it's coming, and the July numbers would point in that direction. Maybe.

Recession is over

That's according to a majority of economists surveyed by the WSJ (27-11). Q3 GDP is expected to show 2.4 percent growth.

No need for debate

Anyone still wondering whether health care reform is a good idea should head over to the Forum where crowds of people are waiting to be examined.

Soundtracks fading fast

Studios are finding them more trouble than they're worth, especially with so many of the songs already available on iTunes.

An end to IOUs?

State Controller John Chiang has to determine whether the amount of cash on hand is sufficient to start using real money.

Tuesday morning headlines

Vultures taking over, another big gas hike, Fox Business channel shows signs of retreating, and best law firms for women.

Jackson film opens 10/30

Sure didn't take long for Sony to move forward with its clip movie of Michael Jackson's last rehearsals, called "This Is It."

Blodget vs. Spitzer

The former Merrill Lynch analyst and the former NY Attorney General who went after them talk about Wall Street - and comebacks.

Beyond cash for clunkers

However many additional cars are sold won't be nearly enough to stave off a major consolidation of L.A.'s car dealership business.

No Maguire bankruptcy

The company does not plan any filing, despite relinquishing seven Socal buildings, including 550 S. Hope St. in downtown L.A.

Monday morning headlines

Maguire set to default, big drop in July home sales, new legal snags for state budget, and GM to haggle on eBay.

Senators cleared

The "Friends of Angelo" VIP program was a pretty sexy story at first but none of it ever seemed terribly serious, certainly not illegal.

Is Broad bailing?

The billionaire's proposed Bev Hills museum on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica is all but dead and Eli is now looking elsewhere.

Less bad isn't good

Don't get too worked up over a slight dip in the jobless rate, to 9.4 percent. All it shows is that fewer people are still looking for work.

Friday morning headlines

AIG turns a profit (really), Platinum Equity bids for Boston Globe, L.A. gas prices shooting up, and NYT fires Ben Stein.

Job cuts slow

U.S. payrolls fell by 247,000 in July, which is considerably better than what many economists had been expecting.

Senate passes clunker bill

Another $2 billion goes into the popular federal program that may or may not be helping the economy, depending on who you ask.

Women's work never done

The U.S. government affirms what many of us have long known: women spend a bunch more time doing unpaid household work than men.

Remember Stefan?

Stefan Richter, that overly confident contestant from last season's "Top Chef" brigade, now has his own restaurant in Santa Monica.

Betting on jobs report

Deutsche Bank economist expects July job loss to total 150,000, down from his earlier 325,000 estimate - and way below recent months.

*Twitter still down

Early word is that Twitter was the victim of a denial of service attack, or DoS, which is when a Web site gets deliberately overloaded.

Thursday morning headlines

Sluggish July retail sales, post-Jackson businesses outlined, decline in online ads, and computer woes slow clunker program.

Big MySpace writedown

News Corp. lost $203 million in its fourth quarter, largely the result of impairment and operating charges involving the Bev Hills-based social networking site.

Scary stat

Almost one out of every two mortgage holders is likely to be underwater before the housing recession ends.

*Bratton's new job

The chief has accepted a job at Altegrity Inc., which has a subsidiary focusing on law enforcement and criminal justice issues.

Billionaire provides jet

The unmarked, all-white Boeing 737 that Bill Clinton took to North Korea is owned by real estate heir and Hollywood producer Stephen Bing.

Wolfgang at L.A. Live

LAT gives Puck's latest restaurant a hefty two stars, though S. Irene Virbila says the dishes "can sometimes taste more corporate than passionate."

Bratton steps down

LAT reports that William Bratton is resigning as chief of the LAPD today to take over as head of a private security firm.

Juxtaposition of the day

I realize that the information age can be a free-for-all, but some items just stick out.

Wednesday morning headlines

More job losses, some dealers running out of cars, Arena Football is on its last legs, and Clifton's building is up for sale.

Yes on Cirque du Soleil

City Council approves $30-million loan to help finance upgrades for the Kodak Theatre, which will host the acrobatic troupe.

Mixed media outlook

Bad news is a 1 percent decline for the year in communication spending. Good news is advertising will start growing again in 2011.

Tuesday morning headlines

Big jump in L.A. gas prices, modification program not working well, lowest airfares are in Long Beach, and fighting for Century Plaza.

Clunker update

Looks like the Senate will go along with providing another $2 billion for the trade-in program. But can improving auto sales be sustained?

Stocks have big day

The S&P 500-stock index crosses 1000 for the first time since early November. Of course, it's still off more than a third from its all-time highs.

Food Network spoiler

Those of us dutifully waiting to see who would become "The Next Food Network Star" received a much-unwanted clue over the weekend.

Ferragamo is hiring!

Who says there aren't any jobs out there? For $8 an hour, you can sell pricey shoes in OC or make lattes in Torrance (if you agree to work in a bikini).

Monday morning headlines

Clunkers program up in the air, sluggish summer box office, governor considers rolling back pensions, and Nissan's new electric car.

Why clunkers matter

Sure, the government is offering a considerable carrot - $3,500 to $4,500 - for a new car purchase but that still leaves a chunk of cash to be shelled out.