Explaining Southern California's economy

LA region's mighty wind could lead to mighty federal stimulus

Tree down in Old Town Pasadena By Susan Long

I didn't wake up to carnage at my house this morning, but many other people in the Los Angeles region did — especially in Pasadena, which got hit hard by the Santa Ana wind event that's ongoing over the next few days. We've had gusts in the 80-90 mph range in the region's canyons, while in places like Pasadena, it blew 60 mph overnight.

This was enough to take out, evidently, hundreds if not thousands of trees. Tree limbs, too. And, of course, it's LA, so there are dead palm fronds all over the place. 

My question is, with unemployment in excess of 12 percent regionally, is this not an opportunity to hire some unemployed people to cut back the "urban forest" to levels that won't create such a mess the next time we have a Santa Ana? And we will have another Santa Ana...

Pasadena actually has an Urban Forest Advisory Committee. I plan to check in with them to to find out what kind of money Pasadena spends on tree maintenance, and what it demands of homeowners with trees on their properties. I did spend a year recently learning a lot about forest management on a large scale (for bioenergy and real-estate investments), and the consensus is that a well-managed forest — meaning one that's logged and cleared frequently — is a healthy forest.


Visual Aid: Ouch! Solyndra-gate makes the 'Daily Show'

Jon Stewart & Co. go to town on the Solyndra bankruptcy and potential Obama administration scandal. It's funny. Real funny. But I'm still worried that the media coverage of Solyndra-gate — as well as the blogospheric response — is perpetuating a couple of big misunderstandings:

1. That Solyndra wasn't being invested in before the DOE showed up with its $535 million loan guarantee. It had already been indentified by investors as a viable company that had a unique solar technology.

2. That Solyndra's total investment of roughly $1.5 billion...wasn't supposed to be spent! It had to get spent and spent fast, and here's why. Solyndra needed to provide an exit strategy for its investors that would have culminated in an IPO. No reason to save money while driving toward that goal. Also, if Solyndra was going to create the economic stimulus that the adminstration wanted, it had to get as much of that $535 million in play as it could, as fast as possible. On that front, Solyndra succeeded wildly: it managed to spend $527 million before it had to declare bankruptcy earlier this month.

So laugh along with the 'Daily Show.' But try to think a little bit like an investor in a risky, cutting-edge industry at the same time.


Reportings: Obamanomics in Cali; Carlyle and Calpers; AEG is cocky and carbon neutral

California has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation. Yet when polled by USC Dornsfire/Los Angeles Times, 49 percent of voters said that cutting government spending is the path to prosperity. "Stimulus is almost a four-letter word here." (LAT)


Major private-equity player the Carlyle Group wants to go public. Competitor Blackstone has a market cap of $13.4 billion. Carlyle wants to be in that league. And the "giant California pension fund Calpers has owned at least a 5.5 percent stake in the firm for several years." Cash-out time? (DealBook)


Environmental backlash to AEG's fast-track, allegedly carbon-neutral NFL stadium legislation. "Well, what would you expect to happen when a bunch of cocky bizjocks from L.A. insist on a bill that would exempt them from many of the legal hurdles that everyone else must go through - including developers looking to build stadiums in other parts of the state?" (Lacter/LA Observed)