Market snooze: The usual lackluster trading in advance of the Fed's decision on rates.
Waiting for the Fed: No change in interest rates is expected today, but watch for the comments accompanying the central bank's decision. There's lots of speculation on when rates will increase. From AP:
Even though the jobless rate hasn't budged for two months and companies aren't cutting as many jobs as they did a year ago, hiring is tepid. Consumer and business spending is sufficient to keep the economy growing only modestly. Lending remains tight. And, the housing and commercial real-estate markets are wobbly. A government report out Tuesday showed that U.S. housing construction tumbled in February as snowstorms held back activity in some parts of the country. "Cautiously optimistic is where the Fed is right now," said William Cheney, chief economist at John Hancock. "But it is heavy on the caution and light on the optimism."
Scope of housing problem: A total of 7.4 million loans are considered delinquent, a sharp jump from the average 4.1 million between January and June 2008. As for loans more than 90 days in arrears, the average days delinquent are now at 272. (Housing Wire)
CA short on health insurance: Nearly 1 in 4 Californians under age 65 had no coverage last year, according to a UCLA report, one of the largest insurance gaps in the nation. From the LAT:
Many already strapped Californians have put off needed medical care and usually wound up crowding emergency rooms, receiving costly care on the run. Hospitals and insurance companies often pass on those expenses to customers with insurance, increasing the cost of healthcare and driving up rates for those who have coverage.
More bankruptcy filings: California's eight-county Central District saw a 40.5 percent increase in February filings compared with a year earlier. (OC Register)
Lehman whistleblower fired: Matthew Lee was let go just weeks after he raised concerns about the firm's accounting methods in 2008 - methods that helped to mask the risks Lehman was taking. From the WSJ:
Once an obscure Lehman executive, the 56-year-old Mr. Lee now is at the center of allegations that the high-profile Wall Street firm misled investors by using, among other things, an unusual accounting device known internally as "Repo 105" to park assets temporarily off its balance sheet.
Jackson deal sets record: The King of Pop's estate has signed a $200 million guaranteed contract with Sony Music for 10 projects over seven years. One of the albums will include never-released Jackson recordings. From AP:
Future projects may also include a video game, a DVD compilation of videos and a rerelease of "Off the Wall," Jackson's fifth studio album, which first came out in 1979, accompanied by some unreleased material. Before his sudden death in June at age 50, the pop star had wanted to reissue the album, people familiar with the deal said.
iPad pre-orders reach 152,000: Most of those came on Friday, when the order lines opened (25,000 per hour for the first few hours, according to one estimate). The pace dropped off sharply over the weekend. The iPad comes out for three weeks. (Information Week)
No approval for MannKind: The FDA did not sign off on an inhaled insulin drug that was developed by the Valencia-based biotech company, operated by L.A. billionaire Alfred Mann. The government says it needs more information. (LAT)
Gas hike slows: An average gallon in the L.A. area only rose about a penny last week, to $3.085, according to the government survey.
Lacter on radio: This week's business chat with KPCC's Steve Julian looks at California's big bond offering and Councilman Richard Alarcon's call to have the city stop paying two banks. Also at kpcc.org and on podcast.