Explaining Southern California's economy

LA Auto Show: My yearly visit to MINI

The 2011 LA Auto Show is now open to the public, so get on down to the LA Convention Center and check out some cool new rides! I'm no longer on site, but I've got plenty of video left to post. So check back in for my continuing automotive adventures.

At the show every year, I like to swing by the MINI display. MINIs are popular in LA and the brand (owned by BMW) has continued to grow beyond the base vehicle, with the its retro allure. A few years back, MINI introduced the Clubman, basically a very small station wagon. More recently, MINI has come out with an SUV of sorts, the controversial — and contradictory — "Big MINI" Countryman. And also a coupe, which sacrifices the back seat of the original MINI Cooper and goes for a roadsterish look.

What's next? Perhaps a MINI pickup? A...MINI-camino? I wouldn't be surprised.

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Bankers v. politicians: Why the financial crisis still hasn't ended

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

Hundreds of Occupy protesters gathered in downtown L.A. for a march through the financial district.

Here's a real barn-burner of an opinion essay from David Coates, a professor at Wake Forest who harbors no love for the global banking class — the financial elites who brought us the financial crisis, as well as the eurozone crisis, and who are currently getting rid of elected leaders in Europe at a brisk clip while doing whatever it takes to stall reform in the U.S. Not surprisingly, Coates sees Occupy Wall Street — which in recent weeks has come under siege from authorities — as being a populist movement that's trying to push back against the bankers.

This a taste of his lash, from the Huffington Post:

We live in troubled and ironic times. The times are certainly troubled. The IMF's Managing Director has recently spoken with some justification of a looming "lost decade" for the global economy — warning of "dark clouds" blocking the capacity of the world's leading economies to deliver a renewed bout of economic growth and generalized prosperity. The times are also deeply ironic: since the governing solution to those dark clouds — in countries as substantial as Italy and Greece, and in institutions as powerful as the IMF — would currently appear to be the replacement of elected leaders by appointed technocrats. The solution favored by the powerful is the transfer of state authority from democratically chosen leaders to governors drawn predominantly from the ranks of the very bankers whose inadequate supervision of their own industry darkened the skies in the first place. In this manner, a global financial crisis that initially discredited bankers has incrementally morphed into one to be settled on terms directly specified by bankers themselves. A crisis of economics has been turned into a crisis of democracy. It is an outrage.

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LA Auto Show: The Ford Mustang Boss 302 ain't messing around

It might not be the baddest or most outrageously powerful Mustang, but the Ford Mustang Boss 302 is a 'Stang with a glorious past. It gained its fame in the 1970, raced by Parnelli Jones (among others) in the Trans-Am series. What it boasted was a powerful engine joined to superb (for a Mustang, anyway) handling. 

So it's not the 2013 Shelby GT500, which is almost too burly for its own good. But power isn't everything. And for Ford, it's a great piece of marketing and a car that will continue to uphold what could be the greatest brand in the automotive world. Although the Corvette guys would argue with you.

Plus, it's orange and in my book there just aren't enough orange muscle cars on the road these days.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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LA Auto Show: The Cadillac of tomorrow is...the Cadillac of yesterday

Cadillac is most definitely back and back big time. This isn't a terribly new, new story. But General Motors' luxury brand has brought an utterly gorgeous new concept car to the LA Auto Show. It's called the Ciel. It's a convertible.

And it's the kind of convertible that you might drive through the Elysian Fields. 

Just watch the video above, for the full, breathtaking effect.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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LA Auto Show: Do we have a theme yet?

LA-Auto-Show-Ext-MDB

Matthew DeBord

The 2011 LA Auto Show is in many ways more about what's going to happen with the car business in 2012.

Yesterday, on KPCC's AirTalk, I said that the 2011 LA Auto Show would be about the revival of the small car in America — by American automakers! — and the return of Detroit, after the worst couple of years in its history. You know, that whole bailout-bankruptcy thing.

The mood at the actual show is more one of expectation. On balance, while 2011 was a lot better than 2009, it was a dismal year by the historical standards of the auto industry. Even setting aside the major disruption of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which created a crisis in the global automotive supply chain, the industry is on track to sell only about 13 million new cars and trucks in the U.S. this year.

Contrast that with the 17 million it sold in 2005.

The hope is that the worst has passed and that 2012 will see the market return to something that more closely resembles normal, even it's a New Normal of around 14-15 million new cars sold in North America.

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