Explaining Southern California's economy

Visual Aid: How the 1 percent have fared since 1981

This is one of those charts that speaks for itself. It comes from a report I was directed to by Catherine Rampell of the New York Times. It shows how drastically pay in the securities business has diverged from pay in all other private sector fields, in New York City since 1981. 

If you want to know what the Occupy Wall Street — and Occupy LA — movement is protesting, look no further.

The chart tells a tale about the New York City economy, which was dominated by the financial services industry prior to the financial crisis and is still seeing very high compensation levels in that world, even after the near-collapse of the system, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and the taxpayer bailout of the big banks. The bailout money, by the way, came from the people represented by the red bars.

Read More...

Tweet of the Day: BlackBerry meltdown

The mighty Arianna summarized what, a little closer to our neck of the woods, The Wrap packaged as "Hollywood Exhales: BlackBerry Service Is Back." What happened is that, after seeing its business start to slip through its fingers over the past year, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion encountered a nightmare scenario: its supposedly secure, supposedly bulletproof network has spent three days failing.

Globally.

It began in Europe and the Middle East but was looking like it wouldn't make it to U.S. or Canada. Today, however, we got hit on this side of the pond. The outage was brief, but the outrage was audible. For one thing, we learned that Arianna travels with three BlackBerrys. She didn't say which one she was tweeting from. Although for all we know, she could have a six iPhones and two iPads tucked in her Vuitton carryon. Maybe even a Vertu.

Read More...

Annals of the 1 percent: The agony of the bankers

Dow Jones Industrial Average Closes Slightly Down

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Traders making money at the New York Stock Exchange. Just maybe not as much money as they used to.

Max Abelson (via Paul Krugman) writes at Bloomberg about bankers and their struggles to live on half a million a year, in the face of government regulations and more work than ever:

Michael Karp, 42, CEO of New York-based recruitment firm Options Group Inc., said Wall Street pay will fall 30 percent this year, and more for executives. It will be flat or down even in businesses doing relatively well, such as emerging markets and commodities, he said.

[...]

Karp said he met last month over tea at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York with a trader who made $500,000 last year at one of the six largest U.S. banks.

The trader, a 27-year-old Ivy League graduate, complained that he has worked harder this year and will be paid less. The headhunter told him to stay put and collect his bonus.

“This is very demoralizing to people,” Karp said. “Especially young guys who have gone to college and wanted to come onto the Street, having dreams of becoming millionaires.”

Read More...

Bike fans flex their muscle against General Motors

cicLAvia

Eric Richardson/KPCC

Cyclists ride through the street at CicLAvia in downtown L.A. October 9, 2011.

So it's bikers 1, General Motors 0, after the giant automaker was compelled to pull a bike-unfriendly ad following biker outcry. This is from the LA Times:

General Motors Co. is killing an advertisement aimed at college students after receiving complaints that it makes fun of people who use bicycles for transportation.

That ad has a headline stating, “reality sucks” and depicts a nerdy looking guy wearing a helmet and riding a bicycle being passed by a cute young woman in the passenger seat of a car. It then goes on to say, “Stop pedaling … start driving” and provides information about discount pricing for GM products such as the new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact sedan and the giant GMC Sierra 1500 truck.

The ad ran in a variety of college newspapers and was turned into a poster that was displayed campuses, according to the automaker.

The advertisement was widely panned on a variety of cycling blogs and in complaints to the company.

Read More...

Federal Reserve plans to monitor blogs and social media. But will it actually read them?

The times, they are a-changin' at the stodgy old Federal Reserve. We used to think of it a financial temple from which a priestly caste of economic policy makers would periodically emerge to make oracular pronouncements of the sort depicted in the video of Fed chairman Alan Greenspan bantering with Ron Paul. Now the Fed plans to keep track of social media and the blogosphere to better understand how it's perceived.

This is from a really great Neal Ungerleider story at Fast Company:

[T]he Fed is now evaluating bids for a social media analysis system that will mine data from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and web forums--beginning in December. In order to "handle crisis situations" and "track reach and spread of […] messages and press releases," the project will also identify a number of what they call "key bloggers and influencers" to target with their outreach, and presumably monitoring, efforts.

Read More...