Explaining Southern California's economy

LA Auto Show: The great Buick comeback

Not long ago, Buick had been basically left for dead. Bob Lutz, the legendary product czar at General Motors, infamously called Buick and its now-deceased stablemate, Pontiac, "damaged brands." Everyone though that Buick was, no offense intended, a car for the AARP set. And the demographics didn't lie: the average age of a Buick owner in the mid-2000s was 65.

A lot of carmakers would have sent Buick — which had always been a mid-luxury brand, a stepping stone on the way to lordly Cadillac in the GM hierarchy — to that big junkyard in the sky, to join Oldsmobile, a brand that GM had already taken off life support.

Problem was, Buick was big — very big — in China.

In fact, it was the cornerstone of GM's whole China strategy, both before and after the 2009 bailout and bankruptcy of the company. GM's U.S. business may have been in decline from the Golden Age 1950s, when it held half the market. But in China, business was booming.

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Live-blogging the LA Auto Show

BMW Offers Previews Two New Electric Concept Vehicles

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Update: I spent a some time talking about the show with Larry Mantle on Airtalk this morning, with Eddie Alterman of Car and Driver and Ed Hellwig of Edmunds Inside Line. Check it out.

I'll be roaming the floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show for the next two days, checking out new cars, green cars, concept cars, and the business of cars in Southern California. I'll also be tweeting, so if you want to follow me, check out my Twitter feeds, below.

Look for photos, insights, and even some video. The LA Auto Show is the first big car show for the global industry, kicking off a season that runs for months and travels around the world.

The industry has taken its share of lumps over the past few years. The financial crisis nearly killed both Chrysler and General Motors — and seriously threatned Ford — but the Big Three are back, racking up profits quarter after quarter. 

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Solyndra: Why the Washington Post gets it wrong

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Paul Chinn-Pool/Getty Images

Ben Bierman (left) and Chris Gronet (right) explain solar technology to U.S. President Barack Obama on a tour of the Solyndra solar panel company May 26, 2010 in Fremont, California.

This Steven Mufson piece from the Washington Post is a solid summary of how the government has long supported, as the headline says, "failed energy projects." Mufson argues that the feds have done a lousy job of making industrial policy work and peppers his account with all manner of money losers, going back decades.

He also holds Energy Secretary Steven Chu's feet to the fire of some flawed historical examples of the government investing in projects that we think were big successes but actually weren't — or that didn't involve any government money at all!

However, Mufson also follows a line of reasoning that has, since the controversial bankruptcy of solar startup Solyndra, become widely echoed by critics of the Department of Energy's loan-guarantee program for green energy and transportation, as well as the Obama administration's support of it. 

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Is it all over for Occupy? The Twitter perspective

Entering "#OWS" in Storify produces some interesing stuff, drawn from Twitter. As you can see, outrage developed today over whether the New York poilce had destroyed the Occupy Wall Street library after evicting protestors from Zuccotti Park — and arresting close to 200 of them.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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Google 'occupy' and get a grim prognosis

Looks like the day of reckoning for the Occupy Movement is upon us. When I googled "occupy" just now, I got a lot of news about how various cities are trying to dislodge the protestors from the public sites they've, you know...occupied.

I'll check in with Twitter next and see what's happening in real time.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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