Explaining Southern California's economy

Easy choice: Money and no job, or a job and no money?

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Federal Reserve

Ever long for the days of Dow 1000? If you have a job but no money, maybe you should.

Felix Salmon has a great post today about, basically, why we need to tax capital gains at a higher rate. I made a rare Tuesday appearance on "America Now" — the radio program hosted by the always lively Andy Dean, with whom I usually discuss and debate economics and business on Fridays — and wound up talking about this very topic, as it relates to Mitt Romney's taxes. 

In a nutshell, capitals gains is income derived from investment returns — selling stocks and bonds, or collecting dividends, that type of thing. The argument in favor of keeping them lower than income tax is that people with money to invest, i.e. the affluent, need an incentive to keep investing. The idea is that a virtuous circle will be created, with investment creating jobs and jobs creating income and that income being invested, by people who wouldn't otherwise invest. Presto! Economic growth!

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L.A. bond king Jeff Gundlach ups reward for stolen art to $1.7 million

SANTA MONICA BURGLARY

Courtesy of Santa Monica Police Department

An assortment of fine art paintings, some pictured here, were among the loot stolen from a Santa Monica home last week. Owner Jeff Gundlach has offered $1.5 million in addition rewards for the Piet Mondrian and the Jasper Johns.

UPDATE: Actually, it's $500,000 for the Jasper Johns PLUS several works by Joseph Cornell. No questions asked! Just give me back my art, says Jeff Gundlach. Some very nice works, I must say.

 

At a press conference today, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeffrey Gundlach announced a substantially increased reward for information related to stolen two paintings from a recent $10-million heist at his home in Santa Monica.

Gundlach had already offered a $200,000 reward, but today he added to that, offering $1 million for information related to or the intact return of "Composition (A) en Rouge et Blanc," painted in 1936 by Dutch modernist master Piet Mondrian; and $500,000 for a work by Jasper Johns from 1956 titled "Green Target."

Both paintings can be seen here.

Gundlach may very well be concerned that, as highly collectable fine art is a difficult thing to sell when stolen, the theives may destroy the paintings they made off with.

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For a guy who just had $10 million in art and his Porsche ripped off, Jeff Gundlach was impressive on CNBC

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Porsche

SoCal's new bond king, Jeff Gundlach, is missing one of the these: a 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S. Along with $10 million in art and a few bottles of wine.

There are three big names in bonds these days, and they're all in Southern California. Together, Bill Gross and Mohamed El-Erian run Newport Beach-based PIMCO, the world's largest bond fund, overseeing a jaw-dropping $1.8 trillion in assets. Meanwhile, former '80s rocker Jeff Gundlach has been coming on strong in the past year.

His L.A. firm, DoubleLine Captial, has grown significantly, with now more than $40 billion under management. Gundlach's old firm, TCW (which he left in a cloud of controversy in 2009), is also in the news: It's being bought by the Carlyle Group, one of the world's biggest private equity firms.

PIMCO is in the midst of much speculation about whether El-Erian will be able to run the find as effectively as Gross once Gross decides to call it quits. This has created plenty of opportunity for Gundlach, who was already well known for his ability to make piles of money, to position DoubleLine as a better, faster PIMCO and a smarter, punkier TCW. Back in May, Businessweek's Roben Farzad captured the meteoric ascent of DoubleLine, which has gone from zero to $40-ish billion since 2010, and Gundlach, the new "bond king."

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Here comes QE3: The Federal Reserve decides to stimulate U.S. economy (video)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake spe

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake. The Fed today decided to undertake another round of quantitative easing to stimulate the U.S. economy.

The Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee wrapped up its September meeting and, as expected, it's decided to undertake another round of "quantitative easing" — injecting money into the economy in order to stimulate economic activity and lower the 8.1 percent unemployment rate. The markets took off in response to news, with the Dow up 110 point in early afternoon trading.

This is from the Fed's statement:

To support a stronger economic recovery and to help ensure that inflation, over time, is at the rate most consistent with its dual mandate, the Committee agreed today to increase policy accommodation by purchasing additional agency mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $40 billion per month.  The Committee also will continue through the end of the year its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of securities as announced in June, and it is maintaining its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities.  These actions, which together will increase the Committee’s holdings of longer-term securities by about $85 billion each month through the end of the year, should put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, support mortgage markets, and help to make broader financial conditions more accommodative. 

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Carlyle Group buys TCW, and the Euro crisis comes home

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Getty Images

TCW was just bought by the Carlyle Group, a huge private-equity firm. The sale could helo TCW and former parent, struggling French banking giant Société General.

The Carlyle Group, one of the world's biggest private-equity firms, is buying TCW, an institutional investment management firm based in L.A., with roughly $130 billion on the books and a good reputation for fixed-income. In fact, the bond side of what TCW does is such a big part of the business (about 60 percent) that David Lippman, who ran fixed income for TCW, will become CEO of the new, Carlyle-owned enterprise. 

The last thing that popped TCW onto the radar was a meltdown in 2009 that involved its star bond trader, Jeff Gundlach. But there's a meltdown behind the Carlyle deal, as well. And it's all about how TCW former parent, French back Société Générale, is suffering from the ongoing eurozone crisis and from the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Banks around the world are now required to basically keep more money in the vault (so to speak). It's called the "Basel Accord," and it's now up to its third iteration, Basel III. SoGen, France's number two bank, is in the process of bolstering its balance sheet and cutting lines of business in order to comply with Basel III. It's been a rough time for the bank, which is suffering from its exposure to Greek debt — it wrote off three-quarters of its investment last year.

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