Explaining Southern California's economy

The Dodgers, the McCourts, Bud Selig, and the dictatorship of Major League Baseball

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Frank McCourt has lost control of the Dodgers franchise as Bud Selig and the Major League Baseball association has seized ownership.

It's not clear to me that big-time sports is a business in any meaningful sense of the term. It seems based on economic principles drawn from the pre-capitalist era, when circuses roamed the landscape and people put their faith in shamans. But the way the Dodgers/McCourt psychodrama is playing out here in LA has led me to revise my view. Major League Baseball isn't even charming in some retro-feudal sense. It operates like a backwater banana republic, ruled by the iron hand of a Maximum Leader, Commissioner Bud Selig.

The sports media seem to have accepted this yucky paternalistic arrangement, which is worrisome. Here's Bill Plashcke in the LA Times:

Bud Selig owes us. The baseball commissioner who allowed a seriously underfunded McCourt to take the team from desperate Fox in 2004 owes us a strong and viable owner this time.

Selig will pick the person, believe me. No sports commissioner has a stronger influence over who is allowed entry in his league. Selig will pick this owner like he has picked other owners, but never before has his selection been more important, more mandated, and more tied to his legacy.

Selig owes us. He owes Los Angeles a well-funded, competitive-minded businessperson who understands that the Dodgers are about a family experience, Hollywood entertainment and, most important, winning.

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Invest with James: It's barter time!

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Matthew DeBord

After Halloween, James (left) has discovered the value of a barter economy. Lucia (right) looks on in awe.

Welcome to the second installment of "Invest with James," in which we learn about money, personal finance, and investing through the budding example of my almost-six-year-old son, James, who loves money and all that is associated with it.

Yesterday was Halloween, a day that is like Christmas, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Rio Carnival all rolled into one for my children. My daughter, Lucia, plans for Halloween in an elaborate, multi-phased way, months in advance, that culminates in the Big Night. 

James had been more of a bystander. But this year, he discovered that there's something of value in Halloween. And that something is called "candy."

Of course, he knew about the candy. But this year, rather than just eat it, he recognized it for the first time as a medium of exchange and an opportunity to create a market. Yes, this was the first year that he sat down with his sister to trade the sugary haul.

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How will small banks handle Bank Transfer Day?

tomblanton1957/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

An Occupy Wall Street image for Bank Transfer Day.

Even though Bank of America has made the unusual decision to rescind its proposed $5 debit-card fee, apparently bowing to the consumer revolt that this fee provoked, plenty of customers may still move their accounts to credit unions and community banks on Bank Transfer Day this Saturday. Credit unions are launching efforts to promote themselves to prospective depositors; some are also expanding their banking hours.

There's skepticism that customers really will migrate from big banks to small banks en masse; a previous attempt to spur a revolt, promoted by the Huffington Post, didn't have much impact. And even if hundred of thousands of customers make the move, that's unlikely to significantly damage large banks, like BofA, Wells Fargo, and Chase, which have billions in deposits. There would need to be a Bank Transfer Day...pretty much every day to make a difference.

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Reportings: MF Global; Yahoo takeover; debit-card fees; Tribune bankruptcy

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iStockphoto

Person using debit card

MF Global, the bankrupt wannabe global investment bank run by Goldman Sachs alum and former New Jersey governor Job Corzine, may have been mixing client money with its own funds, a definite no-no: "'While we are unable to determine the precise scope of the firm's violation at this time, we are investigating the circumstances of the firm's failure,'" [Chicago Mercantile exchange CEO Craig] Donohue said in a conference call about his company's quarterly financial results. (LAT)

 

Henry Blodget still wants to be the CEO of Yahoo, but now he wants the board to resign — because that's what Steve would demand: "Steve [Jobs] taught many people many things, and one of the things he has now taught me is that you need to set your terms upfront. Especially when dealing with a board that is, slowly but surely, destroying a once-great company." (BI)


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Video: Kim Kardashian and Ben Bernanke discuss economics, not divorce

[Note: This is fully SFW, but there's no shortage of double entendre.] Kim Kardashian has been married to New Jersey Net Kris Humphries for a mere 3-months but will soon be married no more.

Luckily, she has a promising career ahead as an economist. So says Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in the above video. I make no claims for its accuracy, but Kardashian is probably what you would call a born capitalist, so why not? I hear there's an opening at the Kansas City Fed, and post-divorce, Kim may want a change of scenery. 

Make sure you stick around for the end, when Ben and Kim discuss quantitative easing and Chinese ownership of U.S. assets.

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure all 217 views of this on YouTube originated at 20th and Constitution in our nation's capital.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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