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.
September 2013

Why they keep flying into Santa Monica airport

cessna.jpg The reason is that the FAA considers the facility to be safe, even for large business jets, and when it comes to regulating airports that's what matters.

Why a government 'shutdown' is more like a 'slowdown'

shutdown.jpg The truth is most Americans will not feel much impact, at least in the near term. And without a public outcry, you have to wonder whether Republicans will be coaxed into making a deal.

Americans can be pretty clueless about the deficit

deficit4.jpg It's fallen at a faster rate than at any other time since World War II - and yet a CBS/NYT poll found 54 percent of Americans disapproving of the way President Obama is handling the deficit. Huh?

Health Care law 101: Figuring out who gets covered

healthcare4.jpg It's a complicated industry and the legislation to overhaul who gets what, when, and at what price doesn't make things any easier.

L.A. gets its film czar... to do what exactly?

sherak.jpg Tom Sherak will be directing the mayor's Entertainment Industry and Production Office. Garcetti has made the entertainment industry a top priority in enhancing the city's business climate.

Obama's biggest mistake in pushing health care law (cont'd)

obamacare2.jpg As we suggested on Wednesday, names do make a difference.

Obama's biggest mistake in pushing health care law

obamacare.jpg He didn't have a good name for it. His opponents grabbed onto the pejorative-sounding "Obamacare" and after a while the president said, somewhat amazingly, that he was all right with the moniker.

Free tickets: Peeking into the Maker Movement

techshop.jpg This is the growing DIY subculture that has individuals coming up with new and different ways of pursuits ranging from robotics to woodworking. Mark Hatch, who has been at the forefront of the Maker Movement as co-founder of TechShop, will provide some insight Thursday morning at the Live Talks Business Forum. Breakfast is at 7:45 and the program starts at 8:15. I have a few free tickets available. Click here....

Century City high-rise another example of 'dumb' growth?

centurycity.jpg Why would the city of L.A.'s Planning Department not see fit to review fault activity before signing off on a 39-story residential tower?

United bringing back 'friendly skies' ads

Also the "Rhapsody in Blue" theme that had been a centerpiece of the airline's advertising in the 80s and 90s. All the major carriers are back on the air with branding efforts that are geared to bring out the positive aspects of air travel.

So-so jobs report for California, L.A.

jobfair.jpg This was a kind of "on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand" report. It shows an economy that's still trudging along, with positive though hardly stellar results.

How is L.A. different from rest of U.S.? Let us count the ways

laskyline.jpg Household income, percentage of people in poverty, and number of uninsured are mostly unchanged from a year ago, but the comparison with the rest of the U.S. is striking:

Boeing to end C-17 production in Long Beach

c17.jpg Announcement comes less than a week after the 223rd and final C-17 was delivered to the Air Force. That's the last airplane manufacturing facility in Southern California.

Time to take down LAX's 'Kick Me' sign?

TBIT2.jpg Today is the official opening of the new-and-improved Bradley terminal, with its additional shops and restaurants and larger and more accommodating gate areas. Everything looks quite nice, though even before the hoopla the airport has been a perfectly serviceable place to fly into and out of.

Fed's decision to keep pumping money buoys markets

FRB.jpg The central bank will keep stimulating the economy through its bond-buying program, which was a pleasant surprise to Wall Street. Near the close, the Dow is up almost 150 points.

Low-skilled immigrants struggling to move up

lowwage.jpg That's a notable contrast to 20 years ago when recent arrivals often started in low-wage positions, but were able to advance to a middle class lifestyle. These days, many of the mid-level jobs are gone.
As Jon Stewart notes, CNN leads the way in (sorta) covering Monday's shooting rampage in Washington.
GDPLA.jpg The economic picture is a lot more complicated than a few numbers, but it should dispel the long-running whine about Los Angeles being some sort of basket case.

Why some companies are ending health-care benefits

healthcare3.jpg The decision making that's involved in adjusting to the Affordable Care Act goes well beyond saving a few bucks.

Grown-ups return to Sacramento

californiacap.jpg Whatever happened to dysfunction? The legislature has wrapped up a productive session that had a decidedly centrist tone - despite fears that the Democrats' hold on the Assembly and Senate would be a return to the days of reckless spending.

LA to get denser and denser and denser

millennium2.jpg More than two dozen high rises of 20-or-more stories are either in the process of going up or on the drawing board for Century City, downtown, and Santa Monica. Question: Are the mayor and City Council prepared to ever say no to projects that are not in the best interests of LA?

How much longer can C-17 production last in Long Beach?

aerospace4.jpg As Boeing hands over its 223rd and final C-17 to the Air Force, it'll now be up to foreign customers to keep the program alive. It's the last airplane manufacturing plant in Southern California.

'Shameless honesty' is double-edged sword in business world

cartoon.jpg That's how folks at DreamHost, an L.A.-based Web-hosting provider, describe their corporate culture. Not only do they want everybody to have a voice, but they want those voices to be heard.

Home sales cooling off a bit

homesalesaugust.jpg Lots of cross-currents at play in the new Dataquick report as the summer home-buying season draws to an end.

Electric cars, driverless cars, and Cal Worthington

driverless5.jpg For all the talk about bikes and trains, L.A. is still land of the automobile - and it's likely to remain that way for a while.

Virgin America's good and not-so-good news

virgin.jpg The airline business is just damn hard. Along comes a carrier that makes flying tolerable (even in coach), develops a strong customer following, and still it struggles to make money.

Ron Burkle buying most of Fresh & Easy chain

fresheasy.jpg The billionaire investor has a long history in the grocery business, going back to his days at Stater Brothers, so maybe he can do what British supermarket giant Tesco couldn't: Turn the El Segundo-based chain into a money-maker.

Jeff Shell takes over day-to-day operations at Universal

jeffshell.jpg Surprising news - Shell was most recently chairman of NBCUniversal International, but he's not well-known among the studio crowd. Ron Meyer will be bumped up to vice-chairman of NBCUniversal.

Socal sees big dip in underwater mortgages

foreclose3.jpg Just 9.8 percent of all mortgages in the L.A. area had negative equity as of the second quarter, down sharply from 29.8 percent during the second quarter of 2009 - arguably the worst stretch of the economic crisis.

Villaraigosa not alone in accepting bucks from Herbalife*

herbalife3.jpg A powerful D.C. lobbying firm co-founded by former Clinton associate John Podesta has been hired by the L.A.-based marketer of nutritional supplements. Presumably, the firm will try pushing back efforts to launch a federal inquiry into Herbalife's business practices.
jobs8.jpg Guessing when employment gets back to "normal" misses the point of what's happening to the economy. Jobs that were lost over the last five years are never coming back.
Then again, it's Anthony Weiner, the NY mayoral candidate who makes the real housewives of New Jersey look like Middle East scholars.

Summer might not be best time to roll out blockbusters

loneranger.jpg I know this is crazy thinking, but does it make sense to have all those blockbusters competing for the same limited audience within the same limited time span? Whatever happened to, say, March?

More than a third of all electric car sales come from L.A., S.F.

tesla2.jpg The relative success in California isn't surprising, given the numbers of early adopters - as well the state's bent on new technology. Tesla, in particular, has gained high-end cache in parts of the Westside.

North Carolina prepares to bail out of film incentives

dirtydance.jpg Lawmakers have tentatively decided that the economic benefits of attracting entertainment productions aren't worth the tax revenues lost from overly generous incentives.

Breaking: CBS, Time Warner Cable end contract dispute*

TWC.jpg The two companies announced the agreement after an impasse that lasted more than four weeks, leaving around 3 million subscribers in L.A., N.Y., and Dallas without CBS programming.