Stocks keep marching: Still inching higher after all these weeks. Dow is up about 30 points.
Delinquency rates improve: The number of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments fell in the last three months of 2010 to the lowest level since 2008. But the delinquency rate remains higher than normal. (Washington Post)
How much higher will gas prices go?: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area shot up in the last week by more than nine cents, to $3.502, according to the Auto Club. More of California's oil is coming from overseas, rather than in-state or Alaska. From the LAT:
California prices also are being pushed up by oil refineries operating at far below capacity. West Coast refineries are operating at 74.2%, compared to 90% or more in many other parts of the nation. "This is part of what is pushing prices higher," DeHaan said. "If we saw them operating at a higher rate, inventories would begin to build. But then refineries profit margins would begin to decrease."
Small biz owners a bit more hopeful: More than half now say that California's economic conditions will improve this year, according to a Citibank survey (last September 85 percent believed there would be a double-dip recession). Even so, most small biz owners don't have plans to hire. (OC Register)
Redevelopment money as ATMs: Funds that are supposed to fight blight and promote economic development are instead being used to pay for basic services, such as police, fire and even the mayor's salary. It's being done in Long Beach, Oakland, and San Jose, among other cities and towns. From the LAT:
This use of redevelopment money is clearly illegal in some cases, and legal or on the margins in others. Either way, officials in many cash-strapped cities say they have come to rely on redevelopment money to avoid making deep budget cuts. That helps explain why many are fighting so hard against Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to abolish municipal redevelopment and shift the money to other purposes.
Villaraigosa wants redevelopment money: The mayor says that projects in the works will create more than 73,000 jobs. No word on how they came up with that number. (Daily News)
Michigan may slash tax credits for films: Newly elected Republican Gov. Rich Snyder has proposed only $25 million for film incentives; in 2010 Michigan approved more than $100 million in film tax credits. From the LAT:
Although wildly popular with filmmakers, Michigan's film program has come under fire as of late. A report by the Michigan Senate's Fiscal Agency last year concluded that nearly half of the expenditures that qualified for the state's media production credits did not affect the Michigan economy. While most states have retained their film tax credit programs, and in some cases actually increased them, film subsidies are drawing more scrutiny as states grapple with massive budget deficits.
Disney to test premium VOD: The idea is to make movies available to home viewers shortly after they appear in theaters. Families with young children would be targeted. (NY Post)