Tuesday morning headlines

Stocks getting whacked: Gloom and doom are the operative words. The Dow is down more than 250 points.

Watch out for September: Historically, it's the worst month of the year - and the first few days have been ugly. From the WSJ:

One particularly disappointing wrinkle in Friday's report was the wages numbers, which showed that average hourly wages shrank 0.1% during the month. Growth in pay is a crucial support for U.S. consumers, whose activity accounts for roughly 70% of U.S. economic activity. Consumer activity has so far held up surprisingly well, but some argue that numbers to be released in September will show a slowing. Most data released so far doesn't reflect the disruptive debate over the U.S. debt ceiling, or the market volatility that followed Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S.'s credit rating.

What about the holidays?: The November-December season will see a 3.5 percent increase in sales, according to the chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers. That would be down from 4.4 percent a year ago. (LAT)

Jump in California taxable sales: Things can't be that bad - the 9 percent increase in the second quarter is almost double that for the same period in 2010. Taxable sales, in fact, rose faster than personal income for the first time since 2005. (OC Register)

Lukewarm prospects for holiday job-seekers: Two-thirds of the chains polled said they would add the same number of workers as they did last year. About a quarter said they planned to hire fewer seasonal employees. (WSJ)

Polls looking bad for Obama: WSJ/NBC survey finds that only 44 percent approve of the job that the president is doing, and nearly three-quarters say the country is headed in the wrong direction. An LAT/USC poll finds that nearly half of California voters would like to see government spending slashed, according to an LAT-USC poll. From the LAT:

"The argument of 'We need to cut the size of government, we need to reduce the deficit' has won, even in California," said David Kanevsky, research director for American Viewpoint, a Republican firm that co-directed the bipartisan poll. "Stimulus is almost a four-letter word here."

Oil slumps: Crude is trading at around $84 a barrel, amid fears of a slowing economy. (AP)

Union workforce in L.A. holding up: The percentage is 16.4 percent, down just slightly from a year ago, according to a report by UCLA's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Statewide unionization rates fell to 16.9 percent from 17.6 percent. From the press release:

The losses in unionized construction jobs, which are more often held by men than women, undoubtedly helped fuel the continuing drop in male unionization rates observed by the IRLE team. Between 2009-10 and 2010-11, male unionization decreased locally, statewide and across the nation, although the local drop did not prove to be statistically significant. Unlike last year, however, the drop did not appear to be due to rising unemployment among men.

Dodger lawyers costing how much?: Bruce Bennett makes $975 an hour as the team's lead bankruptcy attorney. His firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf, has generated $1.7 million in legal fees. From the NYT:

Dewey & LeBoeuf's 171-page bill drones on with the work of 46 lawyers and staff members, including preparing memos, drafting motions, attending meetings, going to hearings, requesting discovery, devising strategy, speaking to the news media, exchanging e-mails and talking with McCourt. Each job is diced into 0.1 hourly fragments as if they were legal atoms. On July 1, Sidney Levinson billed $232.50 to answer media requests for 0.3 of an hour, or 18 minutes. Although the only mention of him that day, according to Nexis, showed that he declined to comment to The Los Angeles Times, he might have been stealthily speaking to reporters on background.

New hotel along Miracle Mile: A 1950s-era medical building has been renovated to create the 74-room Hotel Wilshire. (LAT)

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
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
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
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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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