Explaining Southern California's economy

Starbucks goes single-cup

Starbucks Verismo

Starbucks

Starbucks introduces a single-cup coffee-brewing system. Can you say "Verismo?" And of you love espresso, do you want to?

Big news! But bad news for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Starbucks just announced that it will begin selling a single-cup home coffee-brewing system. This is from MarketWatch:

Starbucks said its brewer, called Verismo, will make coffee, espresso, latte and Americano drinks. Verismo will be available by the 2012 holiday season and be sold over the Internet, as well as at certain Starbucks stores and retailers.

In a statement, Starbucks didn’t give pricing information or indicate how this would affect its current relationship with Green Mountain, which this past fall began selling K-Cups with Starbucks coffee. In the first two months, Starbucks shipped more than 100 million of its branded K-Cup packs.

The single-cup coffee brewer market is growing fast, and Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz has been seeking to make a strong push into it.

“We have long believed that the biggest prize within the segment is a high-pressure system that would give us the opportunity to deliver Starbucks-quality espresso beverages at home and at work for customers who desire the Starbucks espresso experience outside of our stores,” he said in the statement.

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Following up on the flock of black swans

To guard against "black swan" events, companies can assess their global exposure to "resiliency risk."

Last week, I had a great follow-up conversation with Matthew Le Merle of Booz & Co., prompted by my post on a white paper he authored for the consultancy. The paper was titled "Are You Ready for a Black Swan? Stress-Testing the Enterprise with Disrupter Analysis" and it laid out a methodology for global corporations to mitigate the impact of "black swans" — unforeseen events that can have cataclysmic consequences.

One of the things that Le Merle pointed out was that disrupter analysis can reveal greater "risk concentration" in an enterprise than was previously known. I thought this was stunning:

Risk concentration shouldn't be a revelation. Risk ought to be something that professionals can assess if not completely quantify. If the risk crosses a threshold, then they can abandon the project, trade, whatever. They shouldn't have so thoroughly botched the analysis that a black swan looms.

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The day the economists failed

In this three photo combo, Professor of

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Paul Krugman isn't happy about how economists handled the financial crisis.

Just catching up with this. It's the text of Paul Krugman's speech upon receiving some honorary degrees in Spain. It's well worth a full read. There's some wonky econo-speak, but Krugman's labors as a New York Times op-ed columnist have enabled him to convey some complex ideas with admirable clarity. 

Quick summary: the economists failed when the financial crisis hit. When the economy isn't in crisis, economists are basically useless. But when it all goes to hell, they're urgently needed and must to be ready to offer the best possible advice. 

Krugman thinks he and his fellow economists blew it, mainly because they descended into ideological and intellectual squabbling after the initial, successful response to the crisis was mustered.

He starts by blaming himself. This small portion of the speech, to me, explains a lot about how even a public intellectual/academic economist like Krugman could be blindsided:

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Electric car revenge in Pasadena

Mercer 12837

Bryan Mitchell, Getty Images

The Nissan Leaf prototype electric car on display during the press preview for the world automotive media North American International Auto Show in 2010.

At KPCC's Crawford Family Forum tonight, I'll be moderating a panel discussion on electric cars, right after a screening of director Chris Paine's "Revenge of the Electric Car" — the follow-up to his hit documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Joining Chris and myself on the panel will be Geoff Wardle, the Director of Advanced Mobility Research at Art Center College of Design and a veteran of the global auto industry; and Brandy Schaffels, Senior Editor and Content Manager at TrueCar.com, a Santa Monica-based startup that provides consumers with transparent auto-buying information and industry analysis.

I'm looking forward to this event, as I used to cover the global auto industry, for Slate and CBS.com. Where the electric car is headed, now that they seem to be here to stay, is a question I think our panelists will be able to answer in lively, interesting ways.

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February jobs report: Better than January?

A jobs sign hangs above the entrance to

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

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

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release its February jobs report on Friday. The January report was better than expected, with the country adding 243,000 jobs and the unemployment rate falling to 8.3 percent. The big question for February is, "Will the improving trend continue?"

Chances are good. The ADP report — which hasn't been all that reliable a predictor of the BLS data of late — came out today and said that the economy had added 216,000 new jobs, barely beating the Bloomberg consensus, which expects a nearly identical 215,000. 

Meanwhile, Business Insider engaged in a very elaborate piece of analysis and came up with — wait for it — 285,000! That would be, as BI notes, the best monthly jobs report in six years. I like that BI zeroes in on auto sales as a key predictor. February saw sales rise to a 15-million annual pace, more than two million better than 2011. 

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