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.
November 2011

OC's PBS station to begin programming for L.A. audiences

Seems like a logical next step after inheriting KCET viewers.

NBC's Brian Williams shows you how to keep cool

You're anchoring the NBC Nightly News and a fire alarm starts blaring. What to do?

Glendale Galleria to get makeover

Gone will be the mall's windowless exterior.

Huge day for stocks - Dow soars almost 500 points

This was one of those all-good news days.

Cain decides to stay in race

He's worth it - if only for the entertainment value.
The short answer is that companies do not have to be insolvent to file for Chapter 11.
Maybe the finest moment in the history of the LAPD, says the mayor.

Wednesday morning headlines

Wall Street cheers central bank intervention, big jump in private-sector jobs, and Paramount sued for fraud.

Aftermath of police action on Occupy L.A.

City workers have moved into the encampment.

Sooner or later, American will reduce schedule

One purpose of any bankruptcy filing is reducing costs.

Attitudes about tax increases have been shifting over the years

Republicans never acknowledge this considerable shift in sentiment.

Hank Paulson's exercise in crony capitalism

A system that was - and some would say still is - out of control.
Always an interesting compilation of the types of businesses that are doing really well.

Stunning stat on poverty in L.A.

More than a quarter of L.A. Unified students live in poverty-stricken families.

Cain "reassessing" campaign

Looks like Ginger White will be the last straw.

Tuesday morning headlines

American parent files Chapter 11, no movement at Occupy L.A., USC gets big gift, and Facebook IPO shaping up to be huge.
Another allegation of less-than-sterling journalistic practices at the News Corp. papers.

Dow gains almost 300 points

Another one of those lurching days.
Agency's settlement with Citigroup over a 2007 derivatives deal is thrown out.

Oy - Maxine Waters could replace Barney Frank

It would be a terrible choice.

Occupy L.A. protesters going to court

Every hour that goes by makes city officials look like patsies.

Monday morning headlines

Measuring Black Friday, Occupy update, big day at LAX, and disappointing weekend box office.

*Tentative NBA deal is clear win for the owners

The revenue split will be 50-50 - what owners had been offering for some weeks.

Mayor: Occupy L.A. must vacate by Monday

Villaraigosa's press conference was nearly taken over this afternoon by at least one bozo.

Occupy L.A. protesters not making this easy

Really time to end this - now.

Wall Street has worst Thanksgiving week ever

Well, at least going back to when the markets first closed for Thanksgiving in 1942.

Hedge fund gazillionaire prepares bid for Dodgers

Add Steven Cohen to the list of really rich guys interested in buying the team.

What's the attraction to early-morning Black Friday shopping?

A small taste of what was happening at the malls, via ABC 7. I love the interview with Freddy and his grandmother....

Black Friday: Late-night troubles at Wal-Mart

Turns out that Black Friday doesn't even get you the best deals.

Occupy L.A. to clear out by next week

Good on the City Hall folks for finally deciding that enough is enough.

Another bad day for stocks

The Dow finished down 236 points.

Getting off the day after Thanksgiving?

Nearly three out of four employers are giving their folks a four-day holiday.

*Herb Wesson elected new council president

He'll be the first African American president in the council's 161-year history.

Latest bets on Republican nomination

Romney is way out in front, with a 66.6 percent chance.

Banning pot shops (for now) not a bad idea

My suspicion is that dispensaries are simply not workable.

Wednesday morning headlines

Holiday travel getting started, mayor wants protesters out by Monday, council considers banning all pot shops, and big year for visitors.

Report: Rick Caruso considers bid for Dodgers

Wait, it gets better.

Tribune Co. to pay Randy Michaels $675,000 settlement

This should get your blood boiling.

Why Steve Jobs's widow should sell Apple and Disney stock

Laurene Powell Jobs can save $867 million in capital gains taxes by dumping the shares of both companies.

Business Update on KPCC: How to solve state budget troubles

The bipartisan Think Long Committee has come out with an well-considered set of proposals.

S.I. Newhouse no longer calling the shots at Conde Nast

The 84-year-old billionaire boss has moved into more of an emeritus role.

*Last I checked, protesting was a right, not an entitlement

Time for Occupy L.A. to break things up.

Law firm under fire for Halloween antics shuts down

lawfirm.jpg Employees were dressed as poor people whose homes had been foreclosed.

Tuesday morning headlines

Economy revised downward, sizable drop in gas prices, Mattel's CEO to retire, and Occupy L.A. protesters might be moving.

Black Friday do's and don'ts

Some suggestions on holiday shopping.

S&P says no credit downgrade

AA+ rating will remain in place despite failure to cut deficit deal.

Steve Jobs reminds us why capitalism matters

Great financial success is not always a bad thing.

Republicans have lost touch with reality

Not everyone in the party is a jerk and/or idiot.

Stocks tumble as Washington blows it again

The session started badly and never came close to recovering.

Crime is up around Occupy L.A.

It feeds into negative perceptions of the entire Occupy movement.

*Different polls, different results

You try figuring it out.
Long before Ed Leamer became head of UCLA's Anderson Forecast, he taught a remedial course in statistics at Harvard. As it happens, one of his students was Karl Case, who went on to become a renowned economics professor at Wellesley and helped create the widely followed S&P/Case-Shiller housing index. One of Case's students was NPR's Linda Wertheimer. WERTHEIMER: You've had a lot of kudos over the years. Is there anything that sort of stands out...

Monday morning headlines

Bad day for stocks, deficit deal is dead, Brown prepping tax plan, and more folks leaving town for holiday.

No one from Occupy L.A. shows up for hearing

This seemed a little sketchy from the start.
It's not a wonderful picture, but it's not a hopeless one either.

Quite a sendoff for Regis, all this considered

Philbin admitted that his decision to leave came after he was asked to take a salary cut.

Improving jobs picture for state, L.A.

California's jobless rate for October was 11.7 percent, down from 11.9 percent the previous month.

Friday morning headlines

Fourth-quarter growth projection being upped, Crystal Cathedral sold, expect changes at the Union-Tribune, and staff shortage at LAX customs.

*Police arresting protesters downtown

After a standoff of several hours, the cops are finally moving in.
Well, at least 52 percent of them.

Want to revisit the 50s? Just shop at a Sears store

There's no polite way to say this: The stores have a dumpy feel.

Protesters setting up camp at B of A Plaza

Three arrests have been made so far this afternoon.
Many Americans have saved only a tiny portion of the amount needed for retirement.

*San Diego Union-Tribune sold to local real estate developer

New owner is Doug Manchester, who has been pushing to remake the San Diego waterfront and is in the process of building the two-towered Manchester Grand Hyatt and a nearby Marriott. He also was a major supporter of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. Manchester is being joined by radio executive John Lynch, who is CEO of Manchester's company (another radio guy - that's not a great sign). "We believe San Diego is...

Police arrest protesters in orderly demonstration

Orchestrated is more like it, at least judging from the video.

When the Broadway store moved off Broadway

broadway.jpg After 77 years at the corner of 4th and Broadway, the store shut its doors.

Thursday morning headlines

Jobless claims keep falling, Occupy L.A. protesters start marching, Obama secure in California, and fewer people will dine out on Thanksgiving.

L.A. Auto Show switches focus to U.S. automakers

cadillac.jpg Ford and GM seem to be making a splash.

Latest sign of recovery: More pricey wine being bought

Overall wine sales have been up since 2010.

Cal State trustees vote to increase tuition

Lots of nastiness surrounding the meeting this morning in Long Beach.

Occupy L.A. speaks!

Well, kinda, sorta.

McCourt sues Fox Sports

So I'm taking bets: Which mess gets settled first, Dodgers or NBA?

*Report: State budget faces deeper-than-expected shortfall

That means $2 billion worth of cuts will likely be triggered next month - much of it in K-12 reductions. A new report by the Legislative Analyst's Office expects California to fall $3.7 billion short of the $4 billion revenue bump the state was supposed to have received this year. The absurdly optimistic prediction was instrumental in getting a budget deal last June, but in the subsequent months it's become clear that revenues are not...

Wednesday morning headlines

Tame inflation in L.A., protests expected in Long Beach, Dodger payroll to be reduced, and big jump in exports.

European debt turmoil could be spreading

Prices fell and bond yields rose in nations that have been spared the brunt of the financial crisis.

Revised design for Farmers Field

farmers.jpg The idea is to create more openness for the proposed venue.

Big drop in federal prosecutions of banks

banks.jpg Ammunition to those who believe that bankers have been given a free pass.

All pork, all the time

It's cheaper than other types of protein, and it's become extremely popular.

Occupy L.A. camp could be nearing the end

A resistance to working within the system made it hard to take this bunch seriously.

Another so-so month for housing market

Not horrible, but far from wonderful - just the continuation of a long-running story.
Retailers keep trying to lure the post-Thanksgiving shopper.

Developing land next to LAX?

This is kind of a throwback to the pre-LAX days of the airport.

Tuesday morning headlines

Consumers are returning to stores, another dollar chain comes to California, cops clear NY park, and long wait on jobs recovery.

Assessing the potential loss of an NBA season

ESPN is in the best shape because it has other sports to run. But there will be a price to be paid.

Does Herman Cain even know where Libya is?

He continues to make it up as he goes along.

*NBA players reject offer

AP reports that the players have begun the process of disbanding the union. If that happens, it would send the whole mess to the courts - and that could mean scratching the season. "We're prepared to file this antitrust action against the NBA," union executive director Billy Hunter said. "That's the best situation where players can get their due process." He said players were not prepared to accept the NBA Commissioner David Stern's ultimatum, saying...

Do yourself a favor and watch this stunning view of Earth

The crew of the International Space Station took thousands of photographs.

Albertsons on its last legs?

It's never a good sign to have a single check stand open in the middle of the day.

Mark Cuban says taxes are not that big a deal for business

Way down the list of priorities, says the billionaire entrepreneur.

Monday morning headlines

Supremes take on health care, lawmakers trade on insider information, obscure state board overturn firings, and USC has most international students.

Penn State could take financial hit

Moody's has put the school's solid Aa1 bond rating under review.

Income inequality is not at record-high levels

Actually, it's lower than it was four years ago.

Stocks end wild week - Dow up 259 points

The Dow actually finished the week with a 1.4 percent gain.

SEC disciplines 8 staffers for how they handled Madoff case

Or didn't handle it.

To shop or not to shop on Thanksgiving

Sounds like a made up controversy - or at least one imagined by NYT editors.

Friday morning headlines

Consumer sentiment brightens, NBA makes new, final offer, localities can ban pot stores, and record sales for latest "Call of Duty" title.

Another bidder for Dodgers

The former owner of the Buffalo Sabres says he has the financial resources.

Coda opens new headquarters in L.A.

Analysts are skeptical because of price and the company's late entry into the market.

Billy Crystal gets the Oscar nod

Here he is in 2004's seventeen-minute opening bit.

Why Americans are unwilling to do the dirty work?

Certain kinds of bruising manual jobs will never attract much interest.

About last night's debate ... seriously

CNBC's Jim Cramer wonders what planet some of these guys are on.

Another weak month for state tax revenue

California took in $810 million less than expected in October.

L.A. restaurants making a comeback?

A batch of innovative restaurants have opened up, despite a not-so-wonderful economy.

Thursday morning headlines

Good news on jobs, big jump in foreclosure filings, Villaraigosa proposes plan to fix roads, and speedier security checks at LAX.

*Protesters block Westwood and Wilshire; cops make arrests

Several of those arrested were believed to be UCLA students.

Some movement in NBA talks?

The players have signaled a willingness to consider the proposed 50-50 revenue split.

Jim Cramer says the markets are batty

He blames hedge funds.

Dow finishes down 389

It's a 3.2 percent drop on the day, with Italy being the dominant story.

*Stocks having a terrible day

Dow has tumbled more than 400 points at last check - and there's still 90 minutes of trading left in the session. Lots of jitters today about Europe - not surprising if you've paid attention to the bumble-heads in Italy and Greece. Those folks hold the world's financial future in their hands? God help us... *Felix Salmon picks up on the leadership problem: Interests aren't aligned at all: everybody wants to push the costs of...
There's even talk about Cirque du Soleil helping out.

Business Update on KPCC: OWS's missed opportunities

It's a shame, because there's a lot to be fighting about. Instead

Will Cain drop out of the race?

cain.jpg A bunch of betters on Intrade are wagering that he might.

Wednesday morning headlines

Europe still shaky, higher airfares for the holidays, L.A. hotels staying full, and Time Warner Cable considers bidding for Dodger games.

Brett Ratner out as Oscar producer

Movie director might not have been the best choice to produce the high-profile show.
"Modern Warfare 3," which went on sale early this morning, will at least match the 25 million units sold by its predecessor, "Call of Duty: Black Ops," according to Wedbush Securities. Meanwhile, the Santa Monica-based company reported better-than-expected third quarter results - and expectations for a strong fourth quarter. One sour note: A decline in subscriptions to the "World of Warcraft" online role-playing game. Here's the FT story. I look at Activision's success in the...

Herman Cain and 'A Face in the Crowd'

Watching his press conference reminded me a little of the Lonesome Rhodes character in Elia Kazan's classic.

Report: Dodger sale attracting big money

Seems like Dennis Gilbert, a special assistant to Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, is preparing a serious bid for the team.
silvio.jpg Forget about American politicians - when it comes to sex scandals, this guy is in a league of his own.

Italy's Berlusconi to Resign

He's supposedly gone after a budget vote for 2012 is approved.

Brown's pension plan gets good marks, but...

Requiring employees to pay more toward their retirement plans could be a a "legal and collective bargaining minefield."

L.A. officials say eliminating business tax is a bad idea

You can't kill off a revenue source without either cutting more services or coming up with another revenue source.
Let's just say that Wall Street honchos don't exactly quake in their loafers.

Tribune Co. court ruling could benefit Zell

Did anyone else have a feeling that he would get his grubby hands back in the company's bankruptcy game?

Tuesday morning headlines

Italy still teetering, Fox not happy with Dodger auction, tax exemption proposed for L.A. car dealers, and Playboy consolidates in Bev Hills.

New poll captures a frustrated, unsure electorate

More than half see the economic troubles as the start of a long-term national decline.

Jackson reax: Don't these folks have anything better to do?

After the Conrad Murray verdict was read, people outside the criminal courts building were shouting "Justice for Michael."

Gas prices, already high, inch higher

Blame South America, where demand is high.

Subway lines to run more frequently at night

The Red, Purple and Blue lines will be available every 10 minutes, beginning this Sunday.

Managing innovation in the information age

The next breakfast in the Live Talks Business Forum series features Robert Courteau, president of software giant SAP's North American division, in conversation with Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight. Forum is this Thursday at the City Club. I have free tickets. Click here to reserve. ....

The super-slow road to even a reasonably normal economy

A three-year time-span seems to fit with the sluggish forecasts of recent weeks.
The guy is so in over his head that you can't even see the air bubbles.

Monday morning headlines

Pressure on Berlusconi to resign, NBA talks looking bleak, Barnes & Noble introduces new Nook, and De Niro to play Madoff.

Greek PM survives confidence vote

Without approval of the bailout, Greece will likely default on its massive debt.

More pushback on downtown L.A.

As AEG and its loyal cadre of political hacks proceed with plans for a downtown stadium, it's a point worth noting

NBA labor talks looking bleak

Remember, though, it's still November.

Vegas going craaaazy over LSU-Alabama

More action than for last year's championship game.

Wondering how Herman Cain can stay at the top of the polls?

Perhaps one explanation comes from a new Des Moines Register poll that finds two-thirds of likely caucus-goers earning less than $50,000 believe they would be better off or in the same financial situation under the 9-9-9 tax plan. Except they wouldn't. Most every expert who has examined this cockamamie plan agrees that most families making $100,000 or less would pay thousands of dollars more in taxes. From the Register: "The larger point is that people...

Friday morning headlines

McCourt may be leaving town, Groupon shares open higher, no more Sunset 5, and "Funny Girl" put on hold.

Jobless report a bit better than it seems

Of course, the bottom line remains quite weak.

Small business not the economic engine you might think

Dopey politicians perpetuate the myth because it sounds good.

Unproven science strikes again

There they go again.

Class warfare South Park style

Protesting in front of the Red Robin.

Bloomingdale's to open at Glendale Galleria

This is a nice catch for a mall that's been struggling.
An interesting look at how unscrupulous car dealers are taking advantage of low-income folks.

California's $100,000 pension club

The number has doubled in the past two years (and jumped by 563 percent since 2005).

Man vs machine (cont'd)

How higher-skilled positions are getting squeezed.

Thursday morning headlines

Greeks come to their senses, O'Malley interested in Dodgers, activists shut down Port of Oakland, and state lobbyists set spending records.

Before you celebrate too much about the Dodger news...

Just remember what troubles Fox had in selling the team seven years ago.

If filmmakers get hassled in L.A., they'll always have Paris

Producer Gavin Polone finds the city of lights to be much more accommodating.

Fed forecasts only modest growth

Next year the economy will expand at between 2.5 percent and 2.9 percent.

Airport security study utter waste of time and money

LAX is actually a pretty safe place and certainly safer than it was following 9/11.

Fed officials a little more hopeful about the economy

But there's continued gloom about the job market.

*Will Fox Sports become a bidder for the Dodgers?

It's at least a possibility, reports Bloomberg.

Wednesday morning headlines

Payrolls gain ground in October, good riddance to McCourt, OC Register owner sells TV stations, and city of Vallejo out of bankruptcy.

Business Update on KPCC: What happened to Ontario airport?

The recession happened.

Conan visits his old pals at NBC

Well, sorta....

October is big month for car sales

Another sign that the economy isn't quite the basket case many folks have assumed it to be.

Stocks dive on new worries about Greek debt

What's really worrisome is the sense that Europe is out of control.

*LAT circulation keeps falling

Daily is down to 573,000 and Sunday is down to 906,000.

Report: B of A will drop $5 debit card fee

This had been coming for some time.

Tuesday morning headlines

Greece on verge of collapse, stocks taking tumble, McCourt could be nearing deal to sell Dodgers, and Honda production disrupted.