Explaining Southern California's economy

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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How much traffic is the Los Angeles Times willing to lose on new paywall?

Mercer 3958

David McNew/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Times building as seen on the evening of September 20, 2006 in Los Angeles, California.

It's finally happened. The Los Angeles Times has joined the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in charging for online content. It's a paywall, but they're not calling it that. They're calling it a membership program. And the switch gets flipped March 5.

LA Observed sums it all up (and also included LAT President Kathy Thomson's memo):

Freeloaders get 15 stories for free in a month. Otherwise, it's $3.99 for a week of digital access, less if you take the Sunday paper in print, the Times story says. There's a cheaper introductory rate of 99 cents for four weeks of what the paper calls a membership program, to go into effect March 5. Print subscribers get the online paper for free.

You can compare this with the New York Times paywall, which we learned earlier this month has managed to convince 325,000 folks a month to to pay for access the online edition. The NYT also charges a 99-cent four-week intro rate, but thereafter it jumps to $15-35, depending on whether you want full online, mobile, and tablet access. For now, the LAT is keeping tablet and mobile access free — perhaps because it's reportedly pursuing a proprietary tablet that may affect how content for the device is bundled. 

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Dodgers sale: Rick Caruso and Joe Torre yank bid over parking lots

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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

Parking lots? Yes, parking lots. The Dream Team of bidders for the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers, developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, has dropped out of the final rounds of bidding because current owner Frank McCourt insists on keeping the parking lots that surround Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Times has obtained a copy of the letter that Caruso and Torre sent to Major League Baseball on Feb. 17. In it, they leave open the possibility of re-entering the fray. But in retrospect, we should have seen this coming. The parking lots aren't part of the bankruptcy proceeding. But it was widely assumed that McCourt would let them go to sweeten the deal. 

Of course, McCourt is, down deep, a parking lot guy. This is where he made his money, back in Boston before he came west to try his hand an running a storied MLB franchise. Caruso is also a parking lot guy, in a manner of speaking. If he and Torre had been able to buy the Dodgers, he would have let Joe run the team while he set about remaking Chavez Ravine in the manner of the Grove and the Americana at Brand, his beloved, Vegasized shopping meccas in L.A. 

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