Explaining Southern California's economy

Business Insider: Tech bubble? What tech bubble?

DLD Conference 2012 - Day 2

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Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-In Chief of Business Insider, speaks during the Digital Life Design conference in Munich, Germany. He doesn't think there's a tech bubble.

Business Insider just wrapped its "Startup 2012" conference in New York yesterday, where it's promoting its new BI Intelligence service, which is being spearheaded by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, Alex Cocotas, and BI CEO Henry Blodget. 

They put together an entertaining presentation about whether there's a tech bubble a-swellin' up right now, getting ready to pop and make us scream and keen and cry out loud. (Is there a bubble? BI Intel says, resoundingly, "Nope!") But before I get into that, and a Twitter exchange I had two weekends ago with Leigh Drogan of Surfview Capital, about the whole bubble thing, I would be somewhat journalistically remiss if I didn't express one significant reservation about this whole BI Intel project.

For starters, I am Business Insider's number-one fan, in L.A. at least. Henry and his crew have figured out how to stitch together the wonky econoblogsosphere with the aggregational accumen of the Huffington Post and the jaunty and at times borderline slapdash (in a good way) tone of the early Gawker. I think the site looks like hell, but that's part of its charm. And anytime anything happens in the business and economy world — and even these days the wider world (SEO is alive and well) —I often check BI to get their take. Joe Weisenthal is a complete maniac, in the very best bloggy sense of that sleep-deprived sobriquet.

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Get ready for tomorrow's jobs report

A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to

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A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to the US Chamber of Commerce building in Washington, DC.

Time to take a crack at handicapping tomorrow's official March jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you'll recall, February came in at 227,000 and the national unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent. That was good but not great; the economy really needs to add close to 400,000 jobs each month to reduce the rate to a pre-crisis level. But for the moment, adding 200,000-plus jobs each month shows that the economy is slowly recovering and expanding, even if GDP growth is only running at 2-2.5 percent.

There's a wrinkle to the March numbers — the data is usually released in the first Friday of the month, and this time around Friday is a holiday for the stock market (Good Friday). This basically gives traders a long weekend to digest the news.

Anyway, to the handicapping! The ADP report came out yesterday and said the economy added 209,000 in March. The Bloomberg consensus — a survey of 77 economists — says the number will be 205,000. Business Insider has been crunching various datasets of late and comes up with 193,000, a somewhat alarming figure given that we want to see 200,000 at least to support the idea that GDP is puttering along at around 2-2.5 percent, down from the 3 percent we saw in the fourth quarter of last year, but not the discouraging sub-2-percent pace we witnessed in much of 2011.

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Business Insider's BlackBerry-iPhone anxiety

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A man checks his email on a Blackberry.

Attack the iPhone, get over 210,00 page views. That's what Business Insider's Matt Lynley has achieved with this post about why he likes the BlackBerry more than the iPhone

OK, it's a slide show. That's part one of what I should recognize by now as a classic bit of BI linkbaiting-and-switiching. It's also a bait-and-switch in that Lynley only seems to prefer the BlackBerry because he's bored with the iPhone, which he's been using for four years.

However, he makes a very salient point along the way. 

The BlackBerry still absolutely kills it with email. So it was in the beginning. And so it is still.

There's a whole grand saga playing itself out in the mediasphere these days, as business-minded BlackBerry users (read: productive types) grapple with the decline of BlackBerry's makers, Research in Motion, and adapt themselves to the giddy world of the iPhone, much of which seems designed for esthetes and teenagers (read: they like toys), but which is...getting better at the whole enterprise thing.

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Visual Aid: The food truck business, NYC edition

I have a bit of an attitude about food trucks. Living in LA, I tend to take them for granted and also tend to focus on the basics: taco trucks. I am in fact the Foursquare mayor of my favorite truck, where I can get a ceviche tostada or a plate of tacos and a Jarritos soda for less than $5. High-end food trucks have of course become a big deal in LA, but given that we live in America's most spread-out metropolis, they seem to be able to operate without too much trouble.

Down deep, New York has serious LA envy, so in the last few years, food trucks have become thick on the streets there. New Yorkers are competitive eaters (unlike Angelenos, who are basically happy to subsist on a diet of burgers, tacos, sushi, steak and the occasional cleansing bowl of arugula), so of course they can't just emulate LA food-truck culture, they have to transform it into something that might be worthy of a Harvard Business School case study.

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