Explaining Southern California's economy

Ivy League-Wall Street connection opens space for California entrepreneurs

Mary Altaffer/AP

Recent surveys show that a large percentage of graduates from the nation's top schools are taking jobs in consulting or financial sector.

UPDATE: The time is now, California grads! This is from Gabe Sherman's big New York Magazine piece on the end of Wall Street's bonus bonanza: "'If you’re a smart Ph.D. from MIT, you’d never go to Wall Street now,' says a hedge-fund executive. 'You’d go to Silicon Valley. There’s at least a prospect for a huge gain. You’d have the potential to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. It looks like he has a lot more fun.'"

NPR ran a piece today about how too many graduates of the nation's elite universities are going to work in either finance or consulting. At some prestigious schools, such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, the percentages are alarming. The story cites a survey of 2010 Harvard grads that found close to half of graduates were planning on heading for the green meadows of big money. 

California's top schools aren't immune to this trend. Far from it. Stanford sends plenty of students into finance, as does Cal-Tech. However, they aren't yet at quite the same levels as their East Coast brethren. 

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VC in SC: A panel discussion at KPCC

CFF VC Panel

Venture Capital in Southern California panel. From right, KPCC's Matthew DeBord, Rustic Canyon Partners' Nate Redmond, Idealab's Alex Maleki, and Ben Kuo from socalTECH.

Last night, I sat down with Nate Redmond of Rustic Canyon Partners, Ben Kuo of socalTech, and Alex Maleki of Idealab's newly formed New Ventures Group to talk VC in SoCal.

We enjoyed a lively and informative 90 minutes of discussion at the Crawford Family Forum with plenty of good questions from the full-house audience (Thank you, KPCC community!)

I'm going to post some outtakes from the event, but one of things that struck me, for whatever reason, was a recent grad who asked the panel about how to break into venture capital as a career. This got my attention because VC is a relatively new option in professional finance (dating back to the late 1960s and early 1970s) and because, well...most young people seem to want to start companies, not fund them.

That said, in my experience VCs, at every level, are interesting people, glad to share their knowledge and committed to the idea of entrepreneurship, innovation, and a positive future. I wasn't surprised that Nate Redmond's advice was simple but insightly. 

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The dark side of the the Occupy Movement

OLA-Rothschild-Zionism-MDB

Matthew DeBord

Not what you want to see at a protest about banking and finance in Downtown LA.

At the outset, I think it's important to remember that the Occupy Movement, from Wall Street to Downtown LA and everywhere in between, has been rational and peaceful. But there will be some cranks who worm their way into any happening of this scale. I spotted the sign above as I was leaving Occupy LA a few days ago. I wasn't happy to see it. But I wasn't surprised, either.

It gets worse. ReasonTV found someone at the Downtown LA protest who was willing to actually talk out loud about the Zionist banking conspiracy. In front of a camera. 

She got fired.

Ever since there have been banks and international finance, there have been crackpot conspiracy theories about the intermingling of money, Jewishness, Zionism, UFOs, secret underground labs, black helicopters, the world government, vampires...

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Tweet of the Day: America in hock

Today's Tweet of the Day comes from David Wessel (@davidmwessel), the Wall Street Journal's economics editor. It speaks for itself. But it doesn't necessarily tell the whole story. The U.S. government may be financing 36% of its spending. But how much is that financing costing?

The yield on the 10-year treasury has been falling for quite some time, recently dipping below 2 percent before recovering, but still hovering well below 3 percent. In other words, the government can borrow as much as it wants for practically nothing.

When you have to finance 36 cents on every dollar you spend, this is a position you want to be in. Worldwide, people still think the USA is safe place to stash their cash.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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A brave new world for getting and spending

New York City Prepares For Direct Hit By Hurricane Irene

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Declining incomes plus frugal shoppers equals a whole new ball game for retailers.

Are we starting to see some kind of paradigm shift in the way people earn and spend? I'm far from sure, but in the last week and a half, I've seen a few signs that's something's afoot. Median household income has evidently declined since the end of the recession, while consumers have reduced their spending — and may not increase it any time soon.

Reuters Felix Salmon offers a quick summary of a some U.S. labor data data now being processed by Sentier Research. You can easily see what the really troubling thing is: "In dollar terms, median household income is now $49,909, down $3,609 — or 6.7% — in the two years since the recession ended. It was as high as $55,309 in December 2007, when the recession began."

This is why the "recovery" feels like anything but. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal took a look at the new frontier of frugality:

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