Explaining Southern California's economy

Occupy LA gets more aggressive

Occupy Protesters March In Downtown L.A.

David McNew/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 5: Police officers stand guard as Occupy LA protesters stop to demonstrate at a Bank of America during the Move Your Money March on what is being called Bank Transfer Day on November 5, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. Occupy movement members are calling for people to move their money from banks to credit unions today in support of the 99% movement. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

When compared with Occupy protest movements in New York, Oakland, and now Berkeley, Occupy LA has seemed like a blissed-out band of peaceniks. No police confrontations. No tear gas. No rubber bullets. No truncheons. 

Until now. Well, OK, there's been no real violence. But elements of Occupy LA did...actually occupy something other than the lawn of City Hall last night. They moved into a Bank of American branch lobby. KPCC's Corey Moore got the story:

About 50 protesters holding signs and chanting "Make banks pay" briefly took over the lobby of a Bank of America branch in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday night, calling for greater accountability. They were part of a march of about a thousand people demanding that financial corporations help resolve the state’s budget problems.

It's not clear yet whether the Occupy Movement is ramping up its provocations because it wants to...or needs to, given that the public and the media may be losing interest in the protests.

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Apple iPad2 v. Amazon Kindle Fire: The battle royal that will define holiday gadget shopping

Amazon Introduces New Tablet At News Conference In New York

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The new Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire is displayed on September 28, 2011 in New York City.

Back in the good old days — you know, 2009 or 2010 — there was the Apple iPad and everything else. When it came to tablets, there wasn't really a true tablet market; there was an iPad market, as my favorite tech writer, Zach Epstein of BGR.com, has pointed out. But now there's another tablet in town. Here is Forbes' Tim Worstall on how the Amazon Kindle Fire will be different from the Apple iPad, business-model-wise:

Apple makes great kit, no doubt about that, but it charges great kit prices for it too. Then it makes a further margin on selling content (music, videos, movies, books) to go onto that kit. Nothing wrong with it but it is a model that might be vulnerable. Vulnerable to someone using the Gillette tactic (“give away” the razors in order to sell more razor blades) as Amazon is. Price the Kindle Fire at just about break even point and hope to make the profits by having a larger installed base to sell the content onto.

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It's time to say goodbye to the LA business tax

Mercer 20300

David McNew/Getty Images

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

KPCC's Brian Watt reported recently that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to extend the city's business tax holiday "indefinitely." Which could be interpreted as the mayor saying that he wants to get rid of the business tax altogether — rather than simply extend the holiday for another four years, as some city council members have suggested. (Currently, new businesses are exempted for three years.)

LA is facing a budget deficit, of around $250 million, which sounds like a lot but isn't really that bad, given the dreadful nature of the economy. Meanwhile, the business tax is expected to bring in something like $425-$440 million this fiscal year. That sounds pretty good, but the complaint is that LA's business taxes are so high that they actually cost the city money, in terms of lost revenue from other taxes that would flow from increased business activity.

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As Europe melts down, is it time for California to move up?

It's often noted that California has the world's eight largest economy. This depends on how you do that math. At $1.9 trillion, the Golden State is just south of Italy on the IMF list (at number 9). But...Italy is having some rather severe financial difficulties at the moment. So if its GDP slips — and it's already slipped pretty far — and California's increases, will California move up? Then we can lock Brazil in our sights! Then the UK!

Actually, before we get too excitied, we should remember that if California were in Europe, we'd be in serious trouble.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

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