Monday morning headlines

Muted markets: Off to a slow start (Oscar fatigue?). Dow is up slightly in early trading.

New approach on delinquencies: The Obama administration's latest program will allow homeowners to sell for less than they owe - essentially a short sale - and receive $1,500 in relocation assistance. From the NYT:

Should the incentives prove successful, the short sales program could have multiple benefits. For the investment pools that own many home loans, there is the prospect of getting more money with a sale than with a foreclosure. For the borrowers, there is the likelihood of suffering less damage to credit ratings. And as part of the transaction, they will get the lender's assurance that they will not later be sued for an unpaid mortgage balance. For communities, the plan will mean fewer empty foreclosed houses waiting to be sold by banks.

Home prices decline again: February's median price in L.A. County was $327,000, down $15,000 from the previous month. It's the second straight month that prices have fallen, according to HomeData. (Business Journal)

Women still trailing: For all the talk about gender disparities in the workplace, they're still not making as much money or advancing as easily as men, according to a report by the World Economic Forum. Companies in India had the lowest percentage of female employees, 23 percent, (NYT)

Car factory for L.A?.: Chinese automaker BYD is interested in opening its North American headquarters and an auto assembly plant in L.A. County, the Business Journal is reporting. BYD, which makes electric vehicles, has been a notable investment of L.A. billionaire Charlie Munger.

Did Disney win cable war?: The parent of ABC appears to have gotten the upper hand in its Sunday night deal with NY cable operator Cablevision. The dispute was over fees that Disney had demanded; Cablevision finally relented, though it's unclear what the final number was. (LAT)

Interest in state buildings: State officials are accepting bids on 24 properties in L.A., Sacramento, and SF, among other locations. They're hoping to raise $2 billion. From the LAT:

Architect William Fain, whose Los Angeles firm Johnson Fain designed some of the buildings for sale, said the state should be wary of letting them go, especially in a down market. "If they had sold these properties about three or four years ago it might have been a good deal," he said. "It's a fire sale at this point."

Watershed moment: This year, for the first time, more marketing dollars will be spent on digital media than on print, according to a new study. Ad spending for magazines will increase by 1.9 percent. (

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
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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
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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
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