Explaining Southern California's economy

Steve Jobs and the California Way of Business

Steve Jobs' childhood home, with the garage where he and Steve Wozniak started Apple.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Steve Jobs' childhood home, with the garage where he and Steve Wozniak started Apple.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' death at 56 has provided ample opportunity to reflect on his life and his status as an American visionary, a character out of one of Apple's "Think Different" ads. But Jobs was also a Californian, and it's worth asking whether he represented a "California Way of Business."

Gov. Jerry Brown certainly thought so. This is from the Wall Street Journal, and includes Brown's reaction to Jobs' death:

California governor Jerry Brown, who knew Apple Inc.’s Steve Jobs since his first governorship when Mr. Jobs sat on a innovation commission he created, said Wednesday of the Apple co-founder’s death: “Steve Jobs was a great California innovator who demonstrated what a totally independent and creative mind can accomplish. Few people have made such a powerful and elegant imprint on our lives…"

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Many probably learned of Steve Jobs' death on an Apple device he brought to life

About 10 minutes ago, AP reported that Steve Jobs has died at 56. This was quickly followed, as things are now, by a flurry of Twitter activity. Apple's board of directors quickly issued the official statement:

We are deeply saddened to announce that Steve Jobs passed away today.

Steve’s brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.

His greatest love was for his wife, Laurene, and his family. Our hearts go out to them and to all who were touched by his extraordinary gifts.

The Apple homepage also transmitted the sad news of Steve Jobs' death (1955-2011) to all Appledom. The company has set up an email address to anyone who was ever influenced or inspired, exasperated or enraged, by Jobs to send in their thoughts:

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Herman Cain says his plan to reform Social Security worked for Chile, but can it work in the USA?

Herman Cain is now polling alongside perpetual Republican kinda sorta frontrunner Mitt Romney. Today, KPCC's AirTalk did a segment on the sudden arrival of the Cain Train. Time to get up to speed on everything the pizza king stands for, and fast! Yesterday, it was the 9-9-9 plan to reform the tax system. Today, it's Cain's scheme to fix Social Security.

In the CNN/Tea Party Debate, Cain said his plan could copy the "Chilean Model" (see the above video). So what does that mean?

It means privatizing Social Security, as Chile did in the early 1980s. José Piñera, the Chilean government official who oversaw the conversion of his country's social security system from its classic model to one based on private investment accounts, explained how and why he did it, back in 1997 (his account now lives on the Cato Institute site).

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Econ 474: Will a University of Southern California professor win the Nobel Prize in economics?

UPDATE: I had a conversation with KPCC's Brian Watt about this, and while talking about "saltwater" (East Coast) and "freshwater" (Chicago School, free market) economists, it occurred to me that Easterlin could create a whole new school, should he win. He's in California, he studies happiness. Therefore, he's a "sunshine" economist! Just sayin'...

You've probably noticed that Nobel Prizes are being announced this week. There's even been a minor Nobel controversy, as one of this year's winners for medicine, Ralph Steinman, was actually dead before the Nobel committee made its announcement. They weren't aware of his death, however, so the award, normally given only to living persons, stands.

The economics winner is still to be announced. As you might expect, there's been some handicapping. Reuters has a list of possible winners. So does Olaf Storbeck, who writes a great blog called Economics Intelligence

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Wait! Maybe Yahoo will move to LA!

A while back, I suggested that Yahoo, the beleaguered technology colossus, should close up shop in Silicon Valley and move all its operations to Southern California. (It already has an office in Santa Monica.) Now CNN's Juilanne Pepitone reports that something along those lines might be in play. Could Disney buy Yahoo? Here's the lowdown:

While Disney hasn't thrown its name into the ring, one analyst thinks it and its big-media rivals should consider a Yahoo buyout.

"The big guys -- Apple, Google -- aren't interested. And either way, it would make more sense for a traditional media company to buy Yahoo," says James Dobson, stock analyst at The Benchmark Group.

That's because traditional media companies are struggling with how to monetize their online presence. They're still working through the transition from old to new media, and they face stiff competition from upstart online publications.

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