Explaining Southern California's economy

Chevys and Twinkies both survive the apocalypse...and bankruptcy?

I think my favorite Super Bowl commercial was from Chevy. In it, a guy driving his Silverado pickup with his dog discovers that he's survived the Mayan 2012 apocalypse. As grateful man and beast drive through a ruined landscape, the rubble of cities, flaming Big Boys, with spacecraft crashed along roadsides, volcanoes erupting, and asteroids still hurtling toward the Earth from space, they realize their good forture as Barry Manilow serendes them with "Looks Like We Made It." They then discover that they aren't alone. Other Chevy owners have also survived. And the Ford owner? Well, he didn't make it.

But the Twinkies did! Interestingly, Chevy had to survive General Motors' bankruptcy in 2009 to be able to survive the 2012 end of the world. The company that makes Twinkies, Hostess Brands, also came through bankruptcy, back in 2009 after declaring Chapter 11 in 2004. It just declared bankruptcy again, however. In TV land, the apocalypse probably put an end to all that. Luckily, as it turns out — we all knew Twinkies would survive, even if we weren't sure about Chevys.

Read More...

The app economy: Jobs boom...or bubble?

Mercer 14732

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Are apps where the jobs are? Maybe not.

A couple of people called my attention to this report from TechNet, on the apparent jobs boom in the so-called "app economy." Here's Slate's Matt Yglesias, who considers it a positive trend — with a future:

[TechNet economist Michael Mandel's] basic point is an extremely sound one. As I've argued before, doing the same old thing but doing it with a smartphone ap is a huge part of the future of innovation in America. A little processor power plus constant internet connectivity plus location services plus a camera has incredibly broad applications for all kinds of everyday service delivery and this, rather than building devices, is where the big economic impact comes in. 

Apple might disagree with this, given its recent, iPhone-fueled financial results. You could certainly argue that there was no app economy — and none of the 466,000 jobs created by it since 2007, according to TechNet — without the Apple App Store. Which came first? The App platform, in the iPhone. Build it and they will come.

Read More...

Dodgers sale: New York media mini-mogul and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner jumps in

Game Over McCoourt

Corey Bridwell/KPCC

Kristie Wold from Downey, CA celebrated McCourt's decision to part with the Dodgers on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

Well, this was totally unexpected. Jared Kushner — the boyish owner of the New York Observer, scion of a somewhat controversial money clan from the Big Apple, and husband to Ivanka Trump — has made it to the next round of bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers. How Kushner gets through when Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn't is a mystery to me. But there he is. This is from Bill Shaikin at the LA Times:

Jared Kushner, born into a prominent New York real estate family and son-in-law of Donald Trump, has emerged as a candidate in the bidding for the Dodgers.

Kushner, who became owner and publisher of the New York Observer in 2006, has played a key role in expanding the family business beyond real estate. At 31, he would be the youngest owner in Major League Baseball.

The Kushner bid is one of at least nine to advance to the second round of the Dodgers' ownership sweepstakes. The bid has not previously surfaced publicly and was confirmed by a person familiar with the sale process but not authorized to discuss it.

Read More...

Wait! The U.S. could be the worlds largest energy producer by 2020?

Keith Srakocic/AP

A rig in Washington, Pa., drills into shale rock to extract natural gas.

Indeed it could. This is from Bloomberg:

Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal. Methanex Corp., the world’s biggest methanol maker, said it will dismantle a factory in Chile and reassemble it in Louisiana to take advantage of low natural gas prices. And higher mileage standards and federally mandated ethanol use, along with slow economic growth, have curbed demand.

[...]

The transformation, which could see the country become the world’s top energy producer by 2020, has implications for the economy and national security -- boosting household incomes, jobs and government revenue; cutting the trade deficit; enhancing manufacturers’ competitiveness; and allowing greater flexibility in dealing with unrest in the Middle East.

Read More...

Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein and gay marriage: Why not?

This was unexpected news! It turns out that Goldman Sachs embattled, controversial CEO Lloyd Blankfein is a supporter of same-sex marriage. Now he's recorded a short video for Human Rights Campaign, an organization that, according to DealBook, has "persuaded" him to be its "first national corporate spokesman for same-sex marriage." 

Susanne Craig, the NYTimes writer, goes on to express what many were probably already thinking:

[T]he campaign is sure to turn heads on Wall Street, which despite having made progress on equality issues over the last decade, is still considered to be a male-dominated, testosterone-driven place.

But if you thought Blankfein was emblematic of that culture...well, you were wrong:

Behind the scenes, Mr. Blankfein has long been a supporter of same-sex marriage. Last year, he signed a letter urging state lawmakers to vote for a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and encouraged other chief executives to do the same. He also called lawmakers directly on the matter. The New York Legislature passed the law last summer.

Under Mr. Blankfein’s guidance, Goldman has also pushed employment policies that promote equality. It reimburses employees for the extra taxes they pay on domestic partner benefits. In 2002, the company made headlines for offering gender reassignment operations to employees.

[...]

The Human Rights Campaign approached Mr. Blankfein in November through a gay executive at Goldman, and he was immediately receptive to the idea, according to people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly. As part of a national effort, Mr. Blankfein, wearing a crisp white shirt and red-patterned tie, appears in 32-second Web spot intended to drum up support and donations.

Read More...