Explaining Southern California's economy

Michael Lewis on too-big-to-fail banks: Kick out the kids and break 'em up!

Check out the above video, one of the series, of Michael Lewis in conversation with Jacob Weisberg of the Slate Group. It's a quickie but a goodie. Lewis covers a lot of ground. The young guns of Wall Street shouldn't have been getting paid $2 million! Credit default swaps (a) shouldn't have been invented — "innovation" in finance is not necessarily a good thing — and (b) were bound to lead to people betting against the securities, mainy home mortgages, they were based on.

But things really get interesting when Lewis starts sounding exactly like L. Randall Wray, an increasingly prominent economist from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a proponent of an increasingly popular new school of economics thinking called "Modern Monetary Theory" (some call it Neo-Chartalism). Wray also says the big banks need to be broken up. I've embedded a video below in which he discusses this idea. He's not exactly Michael Lewis. But the message is quite similar.

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Greed isn't good: Gordon Gekko goes to work for the FBI

Greed isn't good. Greed isn't right. So says Michael Douglas, in a public service announcement for the FBI that asks viewers to become whistleblowers if they witness securities fraud or insider trading. Not sure how often the public sees those things. But man! Douglas clearly isn't one with the Gekko character anymore! There's always been a bit of cult around Gekko — amoral Wall Streeters who took the greed-is-good message with zero irony. Can't help but think that even Douglas won't be able change that.

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The DeBord Report on 'America Now with Andy Dean'

Listen in to my weekly Economics Report segment on "America Now with Andy Dean." I've been doing this for a few weeks now, and have appeared in the broadcast a number times before that, and although Andy gives me plenty of grief for my "liberal" positions, I have to hand it to him: He does a three-hour radio show every day and really has his preparation down. Whenever we talk, he knows his numbers — cold. Good examples from Last Friday's show include our discussion of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's investigation of bank overdraft fees and of the Obama/Romney plans to reduces corporate taxes. We also have a little fun an the expense of Meg Whitman and HP's consternating plan to introduce a Windows-Intel tablet.

It's always great to talk to somebody who has a good grasp of data. My colleagues at KPCC always strike me as being great at this, as does Mr. Dean.

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Dodgers sale: The final bidding is shaping up as expected

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

The bleachers stand empty at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

UPDATE: The Disney Family is also still in the running. So a total of five known and two unknown bidders.

The number of bidders for the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers has been narrowed to six, according the L.A. Times. Two are mysterious and unknown. But five aren't. They are:

Steven Cohen, a secretive Connecticut hedge fund billionaire who is probably the richest guy still in the running, with a personal net worth estimated at $8 billion

Tom Barrack of Colony Capital, a $30-billion L.A.-based private equity firm

Magic Johnson, in partnership with Stan Kasten

Jared Kushner, the boy-wonder son-in-law of Donald Trump who has so far distinguished himself by running a money-losing weekly newspaper, the New York Observer

•The Disney Family (haven't heard much about this bid, to be honest)

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Stratfor WikiLeaks: My, how you've grown!

Back in the 1990s, I spent some time writing about military affairs and policies, with a focus on the future of warfare. My research and reporting led me naturally to a then-new firm called Stratfor, whose CEO, George Friedman, had written a book with (to me) the catnippy title, "The Future of War." In those days, Stratfor provided analysis on geopolitical events and various flavors of outlook that was basically free. (You can watch Friedman doing his thing, talking about another book in 2009, in the video above.)

Strafor was a feast. When 9/11 happened, I was living in New York. That entire morning, as I watched the Twin Towers burn and then fall, I monitored Stratfor's website for information. Gradually, however, Stratfor's profile became more elevated and the company began charging for its services. At which point I drifted away. 

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