Monday morning headlines

Slo-mo on Wall Street: Expect light trading for the last two weeks of August - and with it, the possibility of extra volatility. After early gains this morning, the Dow is down about 5 points.

Are small investors coming or going? NYT says the little guys are pulling out of stocks because they're losing their appetite for risk. But LAT's Tom Petruno says that oversimplifies what's happening:

Unquestionably, many Americans have become much more cautious about investing, and particularly about investing in stocks. But there also are millions who continue to pump their savings into the equity market, undeterred by the '08 crash or by constant warnings of impending doom. That's right: You are not alone. Some investors have made a conscious decision to trust in the conventional wisdom that stocks will produce better returns in the long run than most other asset choices.

Still believing in appreciation: Even after the housing meltdown, homeowners in OC, Alameda County (near SF), Boston, and Milwaukee still say that prices will rise about 10 percent a year for the next decade. "People shouldn't look at a home as a way to make money because it won't," analyst Dean Baker told the NYT.

Credit card rates at nine-year highs: They reached 14.7 percent in the second quarter, up from 13.1 percent a year earlier. That's in response to new rules limiting penalty fees and adjusting rates on the fly. From the WSJ:

At Discover Financial Services, a diminished ability to boost rates is causing the Riverwoods, Ill., company to offer fewer interest-free balance transfers for new customers, says Discover President Roger Hochschild. Balance transfers have declined 60% from last year. A typical offer might include 0% interest on the transferred amount for a year, with customers paying a balance transfer fee.

Another big jump in bankruptcies: L.A. had 5,187 of them last month (individual and business), which is a 51 percent increase from a year earlier. (OC Register)

Investment group buys Mexicana: No word on purchase price, or plans to restructure the debt-ridden airline. Mexicana filed for bankruptcy protection in Mexico and the U.S. on Aug. 2. Later, it suspended some flights. (Bloomberg)

Some context about egg recall: We all need to be extra-careful, of course, but keep in mind that Americans eat about 47 billion shell eggs a year, which means that the chance of getting infected by salmonella is about 1 in 20,000. (WSJ)

Denim raid: More than $6 million worth of counterfeit True Religion jeans were seized in a shipping container inspected at the customs office that serves the ports of L.A. and Long Beach. They came in from China. (LABJ)

More by Mark Lacter:
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Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
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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
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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