Explaining Southern California's economy

Visual Aid: Occupy Wall Street's breakfast — grilled millionaire?

The 1% have nothing to fear from the 99% but fear itself. Unless the 1%, like Franklin Roosevelt in 1938, lose their taste for scrambled eggs at breakfast after munching for months on...millionaires!

The video above is fairly famous but I think also worth revisiting as tensions mount with Occupy Wall Street. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has informed the protesters that they need to vacate Zuccotti Park by tomorrow. 

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Art Walk finances: Sustainable or unsustainable?

Ray_from_LA/Flickr

The Downtown Art Walk will go on, but so will questions about how it plans to pay its bills to the city.

UPDATE: Jan Perry's communications director responded to my inquiries and explained that the $2,200 came from the City Council "special events subsidies funds." Each council member's office receives $100,000 from the budget that it can spend to support special events, and this was the first time that Downtown Art Walk has fallen into that category. Perry's office said that they chose to support the event while Art Walk is figuring how to handle its future financial needs. Basically, they're helping to buy it some time.

Of course, this does still mean that the City Council is using city money to pay city fees. City Council members obviously have control over their own funds. But I think it might make sense in the future if the city takes this all into account and presents Art Walk with a smaller bill.

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Invest with James: How to make money renting your shirts

Matthew DeBord

James has discovered the value of renting stuff he isn't using.

My almost-six-year-old son James is very interested in money. But unlike some kids who think about ways that they can do jobs for an allowance or create little businesses (Lemonade stands!) in order to get some cash to spend, James wants to divert wealth from other people without actually providing any real services. 

I think this makes him a member of the 1% that Occupy Wall Street is protesting, if not in assets then in philosophy.

His chief target is his older sister, Lucia, who has decided that she doesn't care about money and wants to live for her art.

James is obsessed with separating her from her money. He doesn't really know anyone else who has money he can get his hands on, so this makes sense. 

Money for both of them comes from the traditional sources of pre-adolescent capital: intermittent allowances, gifts, the Tooth Fairy. But James has more of it because he saves it all.

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Econ 474: Say hello to 'stuckflation'

Mercer 9775

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Americans hold up 'I want to work' placards as they join a protest of several thousand people demanding jobs outside City Hall in Los Angeles on August 13, 2010. A Labor Department report showed 131,000 jobs were lost in July and the unemployment rate remained stuck at 9.5 percent.

Here's what we know: unemployment nationally is stuck at 9.1 percent; job "creation" is stuck at less than 100,000 per month; applications for unemployment benefits are stuck above 400,000 per month; and GDP growth is stuck below 3 percent.

And that's just four "stucks." Add in numerous other datapoints and you get a Big Stuck — the story of the American economy.

It's far worse in California, where we're stuck on everything that the nation is stuck on, but because of our thousands of unemployed construction workers have an jobless rate of 12 percent.

There are exactly two sets of ideas about how we can get out of this quagmire. On the right, the argument is to cut taxes, reduce government spending, and eliminate regulations that encumber business activity. On the left, the argument is to raise taxes on the wealthy while cutting them for the poor and middle-class, spend more on economic stimulus, and more rigorously regulate high-risk financial and business activity. 

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