Explaining Southern California's economy

Reportings: Gold collapses; Zynga's IPO; Issa picks Mitt

More market madness as inflation retreats, the dollar rallies, and gold collapses. "'Liquidation selling in gold and silver seems to be outweighing its safe-haven buying," said James Moore, research analyst at Fastmarkets.com, 'but we would expect that to return before too long.'" (The Street)

 

Zynga's dismal second-quarter earnings raise questions about going public: "Zynga's IPO is more likely to be affected by the roiling stock market, analysts said. The company in June declared its intent to publicly sell shares to the public, but has yet to pull the trigger on a date to begin trading." (LAT)

 

Rep. Darrell Issa throws his weight behind Mitt Romney. Also insists the the current Chief Executive lives in an economic fantasy land: "'President Obama never worked in the real economy — we can’t afford to have another president who has spent his career outside the real economy,' Mr. Issa said in a statement."

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Meet Sara Horowitz, labor entrepreneur

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be blogging about the changing nature of work and the emergence of the freelance or "gig" economy, as some call it. A 1999 MacArthur "genius" grant recipient founder of Freelancers Union, Sara Horowitz, is way ahead of me. We talked for a little while yesterday, and I'll be sharing some of what she had to say after I've sifted through the conversation.

One concept she landed on, and that she makes reference to in the video above (taken from BigThink), is "labor entrpreneurship." Horowitz pointed out to me that labor unions used to be engaged a lot of entrpreneurial activity, including building worker housing and starting banks, before they became more dependent on coportations to provide what they need.

This idea jumped out at me because I've been exploring the possilbility that unions can re-invent themselves by providing solutions and partnering with management rather than relying on a postwar tradition — real or imagined — of confrontation. Stay tuned for more.

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How using mass-transit in Los Angeles can save you $12,000 a year

There's some buzz around LA about a U.S. Census report that shows Angelenos might not have the country's worst commutes. This is from the LA Times:

It took commuters in the L.A.-Long Beach-Santa Ana area an average of 28.1 minutes to get to work in 2010, ranking 17th nationally, according to data released Thursday from the American Community Survey's latest one-year estimate....Surprisingly, topping the list were areas with robust rail networks and transit systems such as New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, which ranked first and takes drivers an average of 34.6 minutes, and Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, which clocked in at 30.7 minutes and ranked fourth. The national average was 25.3."

That sounds counter-intuitive: How can regions with well-established mass-transit have longer commutes? Simple: subways and buses make more stops. 

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Visual Aid: Where the jobs aren't in California

This chart, from the just-released UCLA Anderson Forecast, tells a very clear story about both why California's economy is so bad and what it needs to do to make it better (Sorry I can't make the actual chart a bit more clear!). We're creating jobs in health care, tourism, and scientific and technical services. We're losing jobs in construction, retail, and government. Everything else is pretty much flat.

Here's what that means. California needs to play to its strengths and be strategic about its future. We have a good shot at being the global leader in keeping people heathy longer and in caring for not just our own aging population, but the aging populations of other countries, especially China.

People still like beaches, sunshine, and Disneyland. Probably the Golden Gate and wine country, too.

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Let's rebrand 'Operation Twist'

So the Federal Reserve, to no one's surprise, is going to adjust its portfolio, selling short-term debt and buying long-term debt in a effort to drive interest rates down below the surface of the sea and involve mermaids in the magical business of monetary policy and the recovery of the U.S. economy. They're calling it "Operation Twist," after a similar maneuver that was last executed in 1961, back when Chubby Checker had the kids a-twistin' like Ben Bernanke after a barbecue lunch with Rick Perry in Lubbock. (MSNBC actually tracked down Chubby for his perspective, and he provided the in-fact quite good advice to just spend money). 

Even the Fed, it turns out, can't get enough of the 'Mad Men' era. What's next? Let's hope it's not "Operation Cuban Missile Crisis."

Operation Twist Again probably isn't going to perform miracles — economists figure it could add slightly to GDP growth and bring unemployment down marginally. But it's disappointing that our economy is in such a downer that our Central Bank has to set the Wayback Machine to the Kennedy Administration to come up with its voodoo — and that American culture has gotten so bad at generating cool new names for dances that the Fed has to reference a year when the Dow started at 610 and finished at 731. Not that we'll headed for those numbers again. But I'm just saying'…

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