Explaining Southern California's economy

Wait! The U.S. could be the worlds largest energy producer by 2020?

Keith Srakocic/AP

A rig in Washington, Pa., drills into shale rock to extract natural gas.

Indeed it could. This is from Bloomberg:

Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal. Methanex Corp., the world’s biggest methanol maker, said it will dismantle a factory in Chile and reassemble it in Louisiana to take advantage of low natural gas prices. And higher mileage standards and federally mandated ethanol use, along with slow economic growth, have curbed demand.

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The transformation, which could see the country become the world’s top energy producer by 2020, has implications for the economy and national security -- boosting household incomes, jobs and government revenue; cutting the trade deficit; enhancing manufacturers’ competitiveness; and allowing greater flexibility in dealing with unrest in the Middle East.

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Worry at the LA port as holiday shipments fail to materialize

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David McNew/Getty Images

A truck passes shipping containers at China Shipping at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the busiest port complex in the U.S. (File photo 2008)

If you believe that the Port of Los Angeles is a reliable indicator of the holiday retail season, then signs for a Merry Christmas are not very good. This from the L.A. Times:

International trade is one of Southern California's most important sources of relatively high-wage blue-collar employment. More than half the state's 1.1 million cargo-related jobs are located in the region, where a boost in cargo would have had an immediate effect on the amount of work available to dockworkers, truck drivers, warehouse and distribution center staff, railroad workers and others.

Instead, cargo traffic through the Port of Los Angeles showed a slight overall decline in September, down 0.8% to 705,623 cargo containers, compared with 711,613 a year earlier. Imports through the nation's largest container port were down 0.2% to 372,655 containers. The only bright spot was in U.S. exports through Los Angeles, which continued on a course toward a new record, up 26.6% to 176,954 containers.

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Reportings: Big September for cars; boring iPhone; Solyndragate II; Michael Lewis

Are bailed-out and formerly bankrupt U.S. car companies now recession-proof? Both General Motors and Chrysler had a big September: "General Motors Co. said its U.S. sales jumped 20% to 207,145 vehicles compared with September 2010. Chrysler Group's sales surged 27% to 127,334 vehicles, marking the company's best September since 2007." (LAT)

Is the Apple iPhone too grown up to have a wow factor? "'Industrial design is important, but in these small packages we are starting to bump into the laws of physics,' said Tim Bajarin, a consultant with Creative Strategies Inc. 'You aren't going to do anything that I would consider radical in design and still get this feature set and function.'" (WSJ) 

Paul Krugman gets on China's case and highlights the massive U.S. trade deficit: "A return to economic health would look much more achievable if we weren’t spending $500 billion more each year on imported goods and services than foreigners spent on our exports." (NYT)  

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