Stocks edging lower: Dow falls below 9300. Some not-so-hot government numbers are out this morning.
Vultures taking over: Distressed-debt deals - that's when creditors seize ownership of troubled companies - are almost double the pace of 2008. From the WSJ:
They involve companies from virtually every nook of the U.S. economy, from auto-parts maker Delphi Corp., to retailer Eddie Bauer and hotel chain Extended Stay America. In many of these cases, debtholders aren't concerned about getting monthly payments, but rather using their debt positions to angle for ownership. It's the equivalent of a bank making a loan to a homeowner with the intent of foreclosing on a delinquent mortgage. Such strategies have been around for years and are known in financial circles as "loan to own" or "vulture" deals. But never have they occurred with such volume and velocity, say bankers and lawyers.
Another big gas hike: Prices jumped by almost 13 cents a gallon in the L.A. area, according to the government's weekly survey. Retail prices are just catching up with the higher price of oil, though some relief is expected after Labor Day. (LAT)
Real estate agent convicted: Kyle Grasso and licensed appraiser Lila Rizk were found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy, bank fraud and loan fraud in connection with a multimillion-dollar Westside real estate fraud ring. From the LAT:
The fraud ring included developers, agents and appraisers who bought relatively modest houses in some of the area's most expensive neighborhoods. They then inflated the homes' value to get loans. Joseph A. Babajian, 56, the lead defendant in the case, was acquitted on 13 criminal counts, and the jury didn't reach a verdict on eight other counts. Defense attorneys had argued that Babajian wasn't involved in the day-to-day operations in his real estate office and wasn't involved in illegal conduct.
Food books are hot: Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" has shot to No. 1 on Amazon.com, and bookstores are reporting sellouts, a response to the Nora Ephron film "Julie and Julia." From the LAT:
"Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" began flying off shelves last week, as did several of Child's baking books and "My Life in France," said Justin Junge, book department manager at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. The store sold out of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," which was first published nearly 50 years ago and is listed at $40 for a hardcover copy.
Imus talking to Fox Business: The long-running radio talk show host is in negotiations for a TV simulcast on the cable business channel. The simulcast would replace Fox's current morning lineup and indicate that the fledgling business channel is looking for alternative programming. (Silicon Alley Insider)
Best law firms for women: Two local firms, Manatt, Phelps and Munger, Tolles make it onto the top 50, as compiled by Working Mother magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers.
MTV leaves Times Square: The cable channel's parent, Viacom, didn't renew its lease on
more than 1 million square feet of offices, which include the studio that looks out at Broadway. From the NY Post:
The studio served as home to "TRL" hosted by Carson Daly, and drew throngs of tweens to the sidewalk below hoping to spot their favorite stars and snag autographs. But after "TRL" ended its run last fall, the MTV suits apparently saw less need for the studio, which still hosts some shows and events.
Lacter on radio: This morning's biz chat with KPCC's Steve Julian looks at earnings results for locally based companies and the debt troubles at Maguire Properties. Also on kpcc.org and on podcast.