Explaining Southern California's economy

If BYD is in trouble in China, what does that mean for its HQ in Los Angeles?

BYD-DowntownLA-MDB

Matthew DeBord

BYD — it stands for "Build Your Dreams" — built a future in Downtown L.A., home to its North American HQ. Unfortunately, it's enduring something of a nightmare with its business at home in China, even with billionaire Warren Buffett invested.

BYD is a Chinese company that has one big thing going for it: It counts Warren Buffett as an investor. But beyond that, the carmaker/batterymaker/solar manufacturer has been enduring a rough ride. It's seen a massive decline in earnings this year, while Buffett has seen his 10 percent stake, purchased in 2008, fall to substantially less than its 2010 peak value of $1.2 billion. BYD (it stands for "Build Your Dreams") executives have been heading for the exits.

There are some complex, interpersonal, inside-Berkshire Hathaway questions about how Buffett and his longtime partner, Charles Munger, came to be involved with BYD. But there's no question about how Los Angeles came to be home to BYD's North American headquarters, opened Downtown about a year ago, in a corridor that's jammed with auto dealerships.

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Occupy LA: Time to go — peacefully

Los Angeles Dismantles Occupy LA Encampment

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Occupy LA protesters demonstrate on the front lawn of Los Angeles City Hall after the midnight deadline set by city officials to shut down the encampment expired on November 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday gave the protesters outside City Hall until 12:01 am Monday to dismantle their campsite and leave. This morning, although some arrests were made, police have not yet cleared the camp.

Los Angeles Dismantles Occupy LA Encampment

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Los Angeles Police Officers in riot gear deploy around the Los Angeles City Hall after the deadline to dismantle the occupy campsite expired on November 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last week gave the protesters outside City Hall until 12:01 am today to dismantle their protest campsite and leave. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Los Angeles deadline for dismantling Occupy LA Encampment passes

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 27: Occupy LA protesters block the streets around Los Angeles City Hall before the midnight deadline by Los Angeles city officials to shut down the encampment on November 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on last week gave the protesters outside City Hall until 12:01 am today to dismantle their protest campsite and leave. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Occupy LA

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Mike Ferry yawns after a long night showing down with the police

Occupy LA

Michal Czerwonka/Getty Image

A member of Occupy LA camps out in a tree after the midnight deadline set by city officials to shut down the encampment expired in front of City Hall in downtown on November 28, 2011 in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Dismantles Occupy LA Encampment

Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 28: Members of the Los Angeles Police Department wearing riot gear ride on the sides of trucks after the midnight deadline set by city officials to shut down the encampment expired in front of City Hall in downtown on November 28, 2011 in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last week gave the protesters outside City Hall until 12:01 am today to dismantle their campsite and leave. This morning, although some arrests were made, police have not yet cleared the camp. (Photo by Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images)

Occupy LA

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Protestors check out the police helicopters above OccupyLA


Of all major U.S. cities with Occupy movements, LA has been by far the most calm — and the city government has been the most accommodating. The City Council voted early on to support the movement, while Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has affirmed the protesters right to assemble, as well as nodded favorably toward their cause. The city also gave the movement a lot of time to prepare for what was supposed to be a departure today from its encampment at City Hall.

But they're still there. And filing a lawsuit to stick around.

To borrow a line from "Gladiator," some people should know when they're conquered. Or, more accurately, when they're been treated with kid gloves for an exceptionally long period of time. To its credit, LA is taking the sluggishness of the Occupy departure/non-departure in stride. That's consistent with how the city has dealt with Occupy so far.

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