Explaining Southern California's economy

California and Nevada team up to make the housing crisis last forever

The Attorneys General of California and Nevada, Kamala Harris and Catherine Masto, have joined forces to pursue the banks that were involved in the foreclosure crisis to the ends of the earth. This is crusading stuff. But will it actually help? The LA Times sums it up:

The new alliance between Harris and Masto comes as the largest banks are working to strike a deal with a coalition of attorneys general and federal agencies that is led by Iowa Atty. Gen. Thomas Miller, who has forced the mortgage industry to accept large settlements in the past.

Masto has said the state would evaluate any proposed deal but would push ahead with her own work. New York, Delaware, Kentucky and Minnesota have signaled they are unhappy with the direction of the talks with the banks. New York and Delaware have struck their own agreement to pursue a wider probe of Wall Street's role in the mortgage meltdown.

The negotiations were expected to have produced a settlement of as much as $25 billion for the states, including a provision that would write down principal for troubled borrowers, a move long pushed for by housing advocates. But despite pressure from the Obama administration for a quick settlement that might give the beleaguered housing market a boost, those talks have dragged on for more than a year.

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Visual Aid: The awful story of income in California after the financial crisis

The above chart from the Federal Reserve tells two amazing stories about California and money. As you can see, per capita personal income — all income in the state at a given time, divided by the population at that time — moved on an ever-ascending upward trajectory from the Great Depression on, right through numerous postwar recessions, until...

The financial crisis of 2008-09, when it fell off a cliff, pretty much for the first time since the Fed started keeping track of this data. Personal income is now recovering, but it still hasn't returned to trend. 

So California incomes aren't as recession-proof as they once were. And if a new trend asserts itself, with incomes falling with each new recession, life in the Golden State will be a lot bumpier than it has been in the past. But the drama in the chart is really all about what happened up to 2008. California was a good place to go, if you wanted you income to go up, up, up.

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BlackBerry PlayBook: A tablet disaster

The tablet market is looking like a two-horse race at this juncture. It's Apple's iPad with a huge, market-defining lead, and Amazon's Kindle Fire catching up. The only distinct third option, outside the ill-defined Android context, is Research in Motion with its BlackBerry PlayBook. And that tablet hasn't even come close to meeting expectations. This is from the LA Times:

[PlayBook] numbers are small compared with the sales of competing tablets. RIM said in its statement that it sold about 150,000 PlayBook tablets to retailers in the quarter ended Nov. 26 "and sell-through to end customers, based on RIM's internal data, was higher than this amount."

How does that compare with iPad and Kindle sales? 

Not well. Apple may sell 60 million iPads by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, Amazon may have already sold 2 million Kindle Fires, and may soon sell 2 million more.

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Storify: The Brown tax proposal — and the reaction!

I've been Storifying the euro crisis, so I thought I'd use the tool to capture some Twitter commentary in reaction to California Gov. Jerry Brown's new tax proposal. Were people surprised that Brown wants to dodge the Legislature, raise taxes, and go straight to voters via the ballot initiative process. They were not. The Twitterverse had additional insight, as well.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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Jerry Brown's tax proposals: Will they solve California's problems?

California Governor Jerry Brown Unveils State Pension Reform Program

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27: California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California. Gov. Brown proposed 12 major reforms for state and local pension systems that he claims would end abuses and reduce taypayer costs by billions of dollars. (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown laid out his tax proposals for California voters in an open letter at the governor's office website. Brown wants to go straight to the voters, via the ballot initiative process. The plan is fairly simple:

My proposal is straightforward and fair. It proposes a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax, and guarantees that the new revenues be spent only on education. Here are the details: 

• Millionaires and high-income earners will pay up to 2% higher income taxes for five years. No family making less than $500,000 a year will see their income taxes rise. In fact, fewer than 2% of California taxpayers will be affected by this increase. 

• There will be a temporary ½ cent increase in the sales tax. Even with this temporary increase, sales taxes will still be lower than what they were less than six months ago.

• This initiative dedicates funding only to education and public safety—not on other programs that we simply cannot afford. 

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