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.
August 2013

What it's like to be poor (hint: most of us will never know)

fastfood.jpg Living in poverty consumes so much mental energy that according to a new study people's cognitive skills can be compromised. That leads them to make bad decisions.

Another reminder of why the LAT's future is so bleak

latpix.jpg They have less money coming in and fewer resources to produce the product. Is it any surprise that valuations for newspaper properties are so low? But wait, there's more.

Will feds ease up on marijuana crackdowns?

marijuana.jpg Hard to tell from today's pronouncement by the Justice Department that it will not interfere with laws in Colorado and Washington that allow the use of pot for recreational purposes. President Obama still doesn't support changing the laws regarding weed.

Disney gets approval for Santa Clarita production center

filmprod.jpg But wait a second - hasn't Mayor Garcetti declared a state of emergency because L.A. is losing its entertainment industry? Guess he forgot about construction of a major TV and movie facility.

Lousy stretch for stocks

dowaugust.jpg August can be a tough month for the markets (volume is on the sluggish side because people are taking vacations), but this summer's decline is notable because of soft economic and corporate indicators.

Nissan says it will offer self-driving cars by 2020

nissan.jpg Lots of details to work out, including price, specs, and legalities (still unclear who would be responsible in the event of an accident). Still, the interest by Nissan, GM, and Google would seem to affirm the inevitability of these vehicles within a few years.

Venture capital spread around much of Socal

vcsocal.jpg While some locations are not surprising (businesses in or near downtown Santa Monica, for example), other spots are less obvious, among them Burbank (near Warner Bros.), Westwood, and Hollywood.

Report: Koch brothers no longer interested in Tribune papers

tribune.jpg So much for all the speculation about what would happen to the editorial standards of the LAT if the conservative billionaires bought the dailies.

Online retailer ShoeDazzle to tie knot with JustFab

shoedazzle.jpg Here comes the consolidation of the the Web-only fashion business, which considering the number of sites that have popped up in recent years seemed all but inevitable.

Did Forever 21 cut worker hours to save on health care?

forever3.jpg The L.A.-based company denied it was trying to bypass anything. Still, it's understandable that anyone following the retailer might assume the worst. On workplace issues, Forever 21 has long been a lightning rod.
nabi.jpg Fuhu, maker of the first Android tablet for children, tops the list of 5,000 companies compiled by Inc. magazine. It's a huge honor for a company that's only been around since 2007.
americanair2.jpg The government claims that the proposed merger of American and US Air would stifle competition and lead to even higher prices. The reality is not that simple, especially in Southern California.

Another weekend without CBS for TWC customers

kcal.jpg The biggest losers so far are Dodger fans subscribing to TWC who won't be able to watch Saturday's game against the Phillies or all four games next week against the Marlins in Miami.

Think Hollywood is full of crybabies? Try Silicon Valley

pando.jpg For someone who claims to have all kinds of knowledge and influence about the digital world, Paul Carr made a rookie mistake when it comes to email: Never write something that makes you come off sounding like an asshole.

California, L.A. unemployment rates edge higher*

jobfair.jpg Despite unwelcome headline numbers, the recovery continues to creak along, step by step. Not horrible, but not wonderful.

Is it time to start worrying about the 'Hindenburg Omen'?

hindenburg.jpg That would be a type of technical market indicator named after the 1937 airship disaster. As you might guess, it's not a good thing, pointing to a potentially big drop in stocks. If you believe in omens, that is.

Online fashion business remains an iffy market

shophers2.jpg L.A. has become a hotbed for web entrepreneurs, many of them in the women's apparel business. Some have received millions of dollars in venture financing; others are struggling to get beyond early-stage funding.

Hyperloop draws skeptics in Sacramento

hyperloop2.jpg Not a huge surprise - the California bullet train has been staked out among elected officials, including Gov. Brown, as a project that absolutely, positively has to happen, despite its crazy-high cost, not-so-high speeds, and questionable concept.

Home sales surge in July as supply finally opens up a bit

homesalesjuly.jpg These Dataquick numbers suggest a stabilizing market that could make life a little easier for potential buyers who have seen homes sold for well above the asking price.
americanairlines.jpg While government regulators never make it easy, the Justice Department did sign off on recent blockbuster airline consolidations, and the joining of these two legacy carriers had been moving along for many months. What happened?
hyperloop.jpg After putting in an all-nighter, the billionaire founder of Tesla and Space X has provided the details of his magical mystery hyperloop system that's supposed to travel at more than 700 miles per hour.

Now I know why Time Warner Cable spends so much for sports

pga.jpg Sports does not work very well online, which might explain why sports content providers are still cutting rich deals with distributors.

Sensible (and sneaky) ways to avoid travel delays

airportdelays.jpg Gate agents can't always provide you with up-to-date information about when a plane will actually pull in - and for anyone wanting to make a connecting flight, that can be a big deal. What's a passenger to do?

Daily Journal stick-in-the-muds should lighten up a little

casual2.jpg You'd think they could allow a little flexibility for their workers, who I'm guessing are young and like the freedom to go casual.

Could 'Trading Places' really be 30 years old? (Video)

The financial markets have changed a lot since 1983, but you'd be hard pressed to come up with a better movie about money and greed (not to mention commodities trading) than the 1983 comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy.

With Post, Globe sales, how little would LAT go for?

bezos.jpg Properties that were once valued at $1 billion or more are now going for relative chump change. Could the Times fetch more than $100 million?

Bezos is what LAT needs - and might never get

post.jpg Once you get over the shock that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is buying the Washington Post for $250 million, ending the Graham family's stewardship of one of America's leading newspapers, what stands out is having this master of online marketing and retailing taking a shot at the sad-sack world of old media.

Time Warner Cable cuts off CBS stations*

TWC.jpg Here we go.... Time Warner Cable is pulling the plug on KCBS and KCAL.

Time to face reality in measuring unemployment

workforce.jpg New report predicts that the share of Americans in the workforce is unlikely to increase, which means, in a nutshell, this is it - get used to it.

Delta begins hourly shuttle service from LAX to SFO

delta.jpg The super-competitive California Corridor just heated up even further. Delta will add 14 flights each day to San Francisco International, to be operated by its partner Compass Airlines.

Fox Sports 1 almost ready in its L.A. digs

foxsports1.jpg The new sports channel, which debuts Aug. 17, will have as its anchor a 14,000-square-foot soundstage on the 21st Century Fox lot off Pico Boulevard. And get ready for Fox Sports 2.