Explaining Southern California's economy

Nassim Taleb is SO down with Ron Paul

President Obama might have, most of the time, big-gun public intellectuals like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich in his camp. Mitt Romney has Harvard economist Greg Mankiw advising him. And Ron Paul? Mr. Black Swan himself, Nassim Taleb, says that Dr. Paul is the only candidate who's "saying the right things" and has the "guts" to take on the Federal Reserve

Not surprisingly, it actually seems pretty black and white with Taleb. He's worried about hyperinflation (not regular old run of he mill inflation-inflation, mind you). And he thinks that the only way to fix the financial system to treat government like cancer — in the video above, which I picked up from the Paul campaign's website, he refers to "metastatic" government at least twice. Taleb is himself a cancer survivor, so you can understand his metaphor in that light. But there are plenty of other people who are making this argument. That said, they don't have Taleb's intellectual heft.


DeBord Report on 'America Now with Andy Dean,' March 16 edition

Listen in to my weekly business and economy report with Andy Dean on America Now Radio. We have some good fun in this segment, talking about lotteries and how playing when the jackpot gets WAAAYYY up there makes spiritual if not financial sense; market-based parking pricing in San Francisco and the legacy of Michael Bloomberg in New York; a Euro Vegas in Spain; why the Muppets actually are Goldman Sachs clients (I scooped the entire financial media on this one); and finally why liquor stores contribute to crime.

One small note: I mentioned the difference between Spain's financial crisis versus Greece's when we were discussing casino magnate — and Newt Gingrich SuperPAC funder — Sheldon Adelson's plan to play George Marshall and save Spain's economy, by building an unemployment-ending Euro Vegas in either Madrid or Barcelona. It was of course Spain — not Greece, as I said — whose banks fueled a property boom before the financial crisis. That was and is the difference between Spain's mess and Greece's mess.


Better Brands: How the Apple Store completed the brand experience

Apple's New iPhone 4s Goes On Sale

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple Store customers look at the new Apple iPhone 4Gs on October 14, 2011 in San Francisco.

Sasha Strauss of Innovation Protocol will be joining me at the first DeBord Report live at the Crawford Family Forum, this Wednesday, March 21, from 7 -8:30 p.m. (RSVPs are being accepted right now!) In preparation, I'm running a micro-series of posts about branding, Sasha's speciality, all this week. 

In honor of Apple's announcement that it will pay a dividend to investors for the first time since 1995, and also buy back $10 billion in stock, the Apple Store and its role in the Apple brand is my subject. What was it that made the Apple Store different — and what is it that's enabled the retail outlets to generate such loyalty,  go along with booming sales and foot-traffic for Apple? 

Simple genius, that's what. The Genius Bar, in fact, the Apple Store's in-house tech-support resource. Hard to think of an Apple Store without the Genius Bar now. But that wasn't always the case, as David Aaker pointed out earlier this year at Harvard Businss Review blogs:


Be sure to thank Foxconn and wireless providers for your Apple dividend

Apple Unveils Updated iPad In San Francisco

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple product launch event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 7, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Today, the company announced its first dividend since...1995!

Apple announced this morning that, in response to various levels of pressure, it will be dispersing some of its $100-billion cash hoard by paying a $2.65 quarterly dividend to shareholders, starting in 2013, and buying back $10 billion worth of stock. These were both fairly conservative, but far from unexpected, moves. As soon as Apple announced that it would be...making an announcement, some kind of dividend scenario was in the picture. The questions were along the lines of "How big?" and "Will it be a one-time dividend?"

Apple's stock, not surprisingly, is waaaayyy up in trading this morning, currently humming along just a hair below $600. Actually, it's been headed almost straight up since last December. And it could have been set up by Apple CEO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer to move higher, but they went for a relatively small dividend: 1.8 percent versus what Apple's biggest Wall Street bulls wanted, something like 2.5 percent.


Dodgers sale: Four bidders remain, Cohen bringing in Tony La Russa, Soon-Shiong

MPR529/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Time is running out for Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to choose a new owner before opening day. The number of bidders is now down to four. There've also been a few surprises late in the game.

We have roughly two weeks remaining before Dodgers owner Frank McCourt must sell the team. Bidders have been dropping like flies, leaving only a March Madness-appropriate Final Four groups. It remains to be seen whether all four will make it to McCourt's final auction — the Major League Baseball owners doing the eliminating will first send the finalist to a vote by all owners.

Regardless, McCourt has to conduct his auction and choose a winner by the first week in April. The money must change hands by April 30.

Here's who's left:

•Hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen, along with sports agent Arn Tellem and new partners Tony La Russa, the baseball great, and Patrick Soon-Shiong, an Angeleno whose personal wealth is estimated at over $7 billion.

•Former Laker great Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, plus a new financial partner (see below).