LA Biz Observed archive

Mark Lacter covered business, the economy and more here from 2006 until his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
The entire LA Biz Observed archive — more than 10,000 blog posts by Mark — remains online and available.
July 2011

Billionaire John E. Anderson dies

anderson.jpg Soft-spoken, unpretentious and friendly, Anderson was always a delight to talk to.

*House passes Boehner bill

The vote is 218-210, with 22 Republicans voting no.
Here's a four-minute snippet that encapsulates the nonsense being played out on Capitol Hill

L.A. vs. Silicon Valley

The L.A. area has a massive tech community - it's just spread out and disparate.

If you want to know why the economy is stalling out...

Yes, the nation is still growing, but not by much.

Friday morning headlines

Economy weakens in Q2, House likely to pass Boehner bill, Long Beach Airport ranked cheapest, and City Council takes up stadium plan.

Banks prepare for potential post-default trading

They must make sure that the markets for Treasurys and short-term funding facilities keep operating.
The House is in recess as the Speaker is said to be meeting individually with Republicans planning to vote against his bill.

3-D systems developer RealD getting hammered

The problem is that 3-D viewing has become a luxury that many movie-goers believe they can do without.
Which is probably what AEG honcho Tim Leiweke had been thinking would happen.

Thursday morning headlines

Jobless claims fall, higher property assessment in L.A., and hearing on downtown stadium.

Death of Borders was not only about ebooks and Amazon

Borders could be a frustrating place to shop, especially when it came time to making a purchase.

Dow tumbles almost 200 points

Hard to know how much of this is fear of a default.

How many countries have AAA rating?

The question, of course, is what happens if the U.S. loses its AAA status?

Sorry Julia, you just don't look like this

julia.jpg L'Oréal admitted that digital post-production techniques had been used on an ad.

Time for new voices in deficit debate

Faux-gangsta rap on the debt ceiling impasse from comedian Remy.

Wednesday morning headlines

Hope fading on debt deal, California secures emergency loan, more questions about Coliseum finances, and LAX traffic is up.

Here's one solution to nation's debt problem

Just go for the gusto before you hit 65 - and make sure your survivors do the same.

Business Update on KPCC: Downtown stadium, L.A. tourism

City Council is ready to sign off on a tentative deal with AEG, but how much will it help generate convention business?

Socal post offices on endangered list

More than 3,600 locations nationwide are being considered for closure.

Another unsettling day for stocks

The Dow fell 91 points, which comes on top of losses of 131 points in the two previous sessions.

Reality check on deficit piling

deficit2.gif It's mostly about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Bush-era tax cuts.

Tuesday morning headlines

White House miscalculated, L.A. home prices slightly higher, recession hits Hispanics hardest, and more closures at Marie Callender's.

California Dream Act makes only a limited appearance

The money involved in these programs is not huge, but the politics sure is.
Officials are characterizing it as a sweet deal for the city. We'll see.

Jeffrey Gundlach case goes to trial

L.A.-based money giant TCW will try to prove that its top bond manager was plotting for months to leave the firm.

Why aren't more people telecommuting?

The numbers appear to have flattened out - and in some cases they're even declining. But why?

Aug. 2 is unlikely to be default day

Treasury might have enough cash on hand until Aug. 10.
Those refusing to lift the debt ceiling are refusing to pay the check.

Monday morning headlines

Washington in gridlock, California households doing without, NFL lockout is over, and Navy Week at Port of L.A.

Stocks losses contained so far

It appears as if investors are nervous, but don't quite know what to do.

With debt impasse, how bad are overseas markets?

No matter what happens on Monday, analysts acknowledge the growing possibility of a default.

Still the most famous car commercial

Here we have Chevy, Dinah Shore, and what probably looks like another planet to anyone younger than... well, never mind.

Debt talks collapse

Very nasty stuff and the timing for investors isn't great.

Murder, mayhem and laughs - all for $1.99

jaine1.jpg Shameless promotion time: Amazon is pushing my wife Laura Levine's first book in her long-running Jaine Austen series (Jaine's mother was an Anglophile and a bad speller.)

*McCourt loses round in bankruptcy court

The Dodgers owner cannot use the loan he had arranged to operate the team.

Good quarter for Socal venture capital activity

Southern California companies raised $739 million in the second quarter.

State and local jobs picture remains a muddle

What it all adds up to is a simmering jobs recovery that's nowhere close to boil.

Friday morning headlines

NFL players slow to sign deal, decent marks on CA budget, condos may be coming to Century Plaza, and Minkow sentenced to 5 years.

CA jobless rate inches higher, but state adds 28,800 jobs

June's 11.8 percent unemployment rate is second highest in the nation.

California hedges against possible U.S. default

The worry is that a debt ceiling impasse will rock the financial markets.

Persian Jews still sorting out the Ezri Namvar scam

He's due to be sentenced next month for wire fraud, but that won't be the end of case.

Another big day on Wall Street

Indexes are inching closer to three-year highs, despite the overall jobless recovery.
Council vote probably won't happen until mid-August.
Seems like only yesterday when cotton prices were soaring, and retailers were stuck having to either jack up their own prices or eat into their profits. Now that lower demand has brought down commodity prices big time, those same retailers are wondering what to do. "There's never been this kind of volatility in cotton--ever," VF Corp. CEO Eric Wiseman told the WSJ. Brands that specialize in value-priced, cotton merchandise like T-shirts and jeans are the...

*Close to a debt deal?

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner might be nearing an agreement.

Murdoch on Wendi: 'She is very tough'

Here they're being interviewed about a month ago on Chinese TV.

Thursday morning headlines

More layoffs dampen recovery, electric cars will cost more in CA, Scientology holdings in Hollywood, and Katzenberg says movies "suck."

Judge could issue key ruling in Dodger case on Thursday

At issue is whether owner Frank McCourt or MLB finances team operations.

*Costco leads to price increases by nearby grocers

It actually makes sense when you think about it.

What Larry Summers really thought of the Winklevoss twins

"Rarely, have I encountered such swagger," said the former president of Harvard.
A setback in Hilton's long-running efforts to show the world that she's not the rich, self-involved brat we think she is.

Wednesday morning headlines

Modest improvement in local economy, Dodgers and MLB duke it out, AEG's downtown condos are flops, and Calpers not happy with Murdoch.

Apple's amazing quarter

It doesn't get much better than this - as usual.

Dow jumps 202 points

It's the biggest one-day gain since December

Business Update on KPCC: Housing market changes hands

A little-noticed shift is taking place between baby boomers and younger households.

Foreclosure filings are way down - but why?

If there are signs that the worst is over, it's a huge positive for the state and local economy.

Breakthrough in debt talks?

All of a sudden there's a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction plan that's getting bipartisan support in the Senate.

Magazines among the victims of Borders closing

borders.jpg The bankrupt bookstore chain had been one of the major outlets for periodicals.

Tuesday morning headlines

Murdoch on the defensive, B of A reports big loss, new deputy mayor for economic development, and get ready for some pro football.
Sorry folks, you can't access CNN on your iPad.

*Here's the guy who is helping prevent a debt deal

Chris Matthews interviews anti-tax goon Grover Norquist.
I'd be willing to bet a few dollars that Murdoch's days are numbered. Just a matter of time.

*Borders gives up on sale, will seek liquidation

In a nutshell, no one wanted to take a chance on a retailer.

California's two big pension funds report huge returns

What a difference a cooperative stock market makes.

McCourt calls MLB loan 'deal with the devil'

Frank McCourt calling some other entity the devil? Now that's chutzpah for you.

Why there's still no deficit deal

It's not so much the cuts themselves, it's the timing.

Murdoch's (WSJ) editorial shows stunning lack of class

This morning's petulant attack against the world has been getting lots of attention.

Monday morning headlines

Why so little hiring, Borders nears liquidation, Socal office market still struggling, and Frank McCourt asks for lower spousal support.

*Freeway reopening this afternoon

That's the word from Caltrans, a remarkable development in a weekend filled with remarkables.

In advance of closure, traffic seems light

Santa Monica Boulevard between Century City and the 405 seems to be unusually quiet.

Austin Beutner profiled on KPCC's 'Off-Ramp'

The former deputy mayor and probable mayoral candidate has been introducing himself around town as a guy who can gets things done.

*What's behind the sudden contrition at News Corp.?

CEO Rupert Murdoch sounded defensive yesterday; sober today.
This is why you can't jump to conclusions about the way the government spends money.

New talk about Murdoch stepping down as CEO?

That's what Bloomberg is reporting, citing sources.

*Harry Potter is already making box office magic

The last installment in the hugely popular series opened at midnight and already has sold $43.5 million in tickets.

Friday morning headlines

Consumer sentiment drops sharply, big earnings at Mattel, more solar rebates, and what's driving growth of Latino population?
That brings tuition for undergraduate and graduate tuition for California residents to $12,192.

Port slowdown even more noticeable in L.A. than Long Beach

It's a pretty good indication of supply disruptions due to the Japanese earthquake.

FBI looking into Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Another shoe has dropped. Actually, seems more like a fishing expedition.

Developer's connection to Bev Hills subway fight

Chicago-based JMB Realty wants a station on Constellation, not Santa Monica Boulevard.

Bachmann's Yiddish problem

Still needs work, honey. You might want to check out this oldie-but-goodie.

Thursday morning headlines

No sign of breakthrough in debt talks, Borders close to liquidation, CA Treasurer expects new budget cuts, and SD Union-Tribune may be on block again.
Nobody knows, which is why investors are having a tough time planning contingencies.
That's $4 each way - $5 if you want a roomier seat.

Modest gains at Port of Long Beach

Perhaps it reflects stoppages and shortages related to the Japanese earthquake.

NFL deal is said to be close - really

An agreement in principle could be completed sometime between Friday and next Tuesday.
A generational shift is unfolding before our eyes.

Wednesday morning headlines

Bernanke offers assurances, Janice Hahn wins congressional seat, state leads nation in green jobs, and Netflix customers not happy.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell suggests a plan that would allow President Obama to increase the debt ceiling unilaterally.

Website errs in buyer of Elizabeth Taylor estate

Turns out that it's Rocky Malhotra, not Mark Barron, as we posted on Monday.
Another example of a rich-poor divide that seems to be getting wider.
Key factor is whether sales are lost forever or just moved around. If they're moved around, it's not really a big deal - and that'll probably be the case with the freeway closure. Businesses and individuals certainly have had plenty of time to adjust their schedules - a trucking company, for example, will be able to either reroute deliveries or make their runs before or after the closure. Someone planning a wedding will have had...

L.A. home sales jump 13.8% from May to June

Whoa - wasn't the housing market supposed to be in the dumps? Well, yes, it was, and still is.

How wacky Republicans have taken over the party

Only 20 percent of Americans believe that a budget deal should consist of spending cuts only.

Tuesday morning headlines

Election Day in the South Bay, more B of A borrowers may be evicted, why Amazon is resorting to a referendum, and vote of confidence for Dodgers GM.
compromise.jpg Maybe it's not so complicated after all.

Amazon wants voters to decide on sales tax

A referendum would present an interesting choice for voters.

Radio ad is latest tactic by grocery workers

Still no sign of a breakthrough in contract talks with the major supermarket chains.

Gas price fun is over

The general consensus is that, barring something unexpected, we've seen the last of the big price declines.

Wall Street has lousy day

Stocks were down sharply from the get-go - just too much concern about debt.

The $350 bottle of wine and a guy named Asness

Another example of the schoolyard that Washington has become.

Good news for California coffers

June revenues coming into the state were $440.5 million above May estimates.
We're talking jobless benefits, food stamps, and disability.

Monday morning headlines

Debt clock ticking down, dollar stores take it on the chin, L.A. bankruptcies drop, and Burkle says hiring Clinton was dumb.

Tale of two airports: LAX up, Bob Hope down

The airport that everyone loves to hate keeps managing to pack 'em in.

Penny on the dollar for Countrywide investors?

Those holding the company's mortgage-backed securities are pretty much out of luck.
It's been a while since an economic report generated so much gloom.

Friday morning headlines

Boehner pulls back on debt deal, local food banks are struggling, more cash for American Apparel, and LAX fined for security lapse.
Look at something called the labor-force participation rate, which is the share of the population in the jobs market.

Hooray! S&P raises outlook for California

The state's rating has been revised to "stable" from "negative," which is a much bigger deal than it might seem.
Bankruptcy judge says that Commissioner Bud Selig is not on trial.
Rarely have I comes across two candidates who were less deserving.

405 closure is not a problem, it's an opportunity

The buildup has been hyperbolic and a bit silly, although it has caused the city to come together.
He's a Steve Jobs lookalike, and he's becoming popular.

Patch's hyper-local schtick might not be working out

The emphasis is now on "trending topics" (i.e. sex and sensation) that will generate lots of clicks.

Thursday morning headlines

Debt deal may be near, private payrolls jump in June, FDIC sues former IndyMac CEO, and ground-breaking on toll lanes.

New date for subway service to Westwood: June 30, 2022

That's what Metro is now projecting - so long as it receives expedited funding from Washington.

Good primer on the debt impasse

The general consensus was that the government would somehow, some way raise the debt level.

Villaraigosa's chief of staff to step down

Jeff Carr, who has held the most since 2009, is expected to leave later this summer.

Solar market gains foothold

solar.jpg Some pretty impressive stats from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

No, the Casey Anthony verdict did not move the market

Not everything revolves around the Casey Anthony case.

Wednesday morning headlines

Layoffs rise in June, Chapman bids for Crystal Cathedral, Dodgers seek MLB documents, and PTA moms accused in Ponzi scheme.
Actress bought the place in 2006 for $13.6 million, and then rebuilt much of it.

Casey Anthony withdrawal

HLN's ratings in June were its highest ever, topped only by Fox News.

Still lower gas prices - but for how long?

Oil prices have been quite volatile, so don't be surprised if gas levels off or even increases.

DWP among the most hated companies in the U.S.

Common DWP complaints include billing problems and proposed rate hikes.

Business Update on KPCC

This week's chat looks at the difficulty in raising state revenues.
The former California governor is retired down in Long Beach, but he's still willing to speak his mind.

Tuesday morning headlines

Earnings season looks good, more doubts about Republicans, big jump in long-term unemployed, and council signs off on police contract.

The Muppets coming back this Thanksgiving

Something to look forward to - Kermit and cool weather....

Dow gains more than 600 points on the week

That's a jump of 5.4 percent, the best weekly performance in two years.

Car sales slump in June

GM had a softer month than expected, and Toyotas and Hondas were in continued short supply.
The vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway - and curmudgeon par excellence - goes ballistic.

Zynga offering one more example of the nutty IPO market

Company will try to raise as much as $2 billion in the initial public offering and valuation could reach $20 billion. Really?

Cookout prices are not what they used to be

A typical hamburger/hot dog meal for four will cost $61.16.

Different kind of sports owner

L.A. billionaire Tom Gores is treating his newly purchased Detroit Pistons like any of his other investments.

Friday morning headlines

State sales tax takes a dip, Krugman worries about debt ceiling, parking ticket favors revealed, and Selig to be deposed.