Back in December I wrote a piece where I stated that California was likely to default on its obligations. Let’s say the state’s leaders were less than pleased. California Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s office asserted that I knew “nothing about California bonds, or the risk the State will default on its payments.” My assessment, they asserted, “is nothing more than irresponsible fear-mongering with no basis in reality, only roots in ignorance. Since it issued its first bond, California has never, not once, defaulted on a bond payment.” read more »
This year's best places rankings held few great surprises. In a nation that shed nearly 6.7 million jobs since 2007, the winners were places that maintained or had limited employment declines. These places typically had high levels of government spending (including major military installation or large blocs of federal jobs) or major educational institutions. Nor was the continued importance of the energy economy surprising in a nation where a gallon of gas is still about $3 a gallon. read more »
Calls for more bank regulators remind me of a regulatory go-round with an erratic European bank chairman to whom I once reported. Almost eighty years old, with a failing memory and a fondness for mid-day Martinis, he once interrupted a luncheon to call his wife and ask that she send his revolver over to the bank.
At one time in his life he might have had a license to carry a firearm, but the permit had long expired. He wanted the great equalizer on this particular afternoon because the television was full of possible terror threats against financial interests, and he figured, after his second highball, that outside agitators read more »
Surprisingly, despite the real challenges Los Angeles faces today, the city is out in front of many of its urban competitors in transforming its capacity to provide a safe place to raise and properly educate children, exactly the criteria Millennials use in deciding where to settle down and start a family. It is the kind of challenge that cities around the country must meet if they wish to thrive in the coming decade. read more »
The Obama Administration has recently been shining a spotlight on the need to eliminate barriers to telework and its growth. Now Congress has legislation before it that would abolish one of telework's greatest obstacles, the risk of double taxation Americans face if they telecommute across state lines. The Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act (H.R. 2600)would remove the double tax risk.
H.R. 2600 can and should be enacted as a stand-alone measure. However, Washington is also currently developing or considering a variety of other legislative packages, any one of which would be significantly strengthened if the provisions of H.R. 2600 were added to it. These packages include energy/climate legislation (expected to be unveiled later this month), transportation legislation and small business legislation. Each of these packages, we have been told, would double as a jobs bill. read more »
So if we are in a new war -- this one for business and job growth -- what role does local government play?
It would be a mistake to over-emphasize the role of government, especially at the local level. Despite the claims of politicians from both parties about how many jobs their policies "created," governments don't create jobs, at least not in the private sector. Ventura, for example, is estimated to generate about seven to eight billion dollars in annual economic activity. The sales and profitability of thousands of individual businesses are only marginally impacted by what goes on at City Hall, no matter what cheerleaders or critics might claim. read more »
At the beginning of every war, generals always try to fight the last one. Experienced professionals are often the last to realize the times and terrain have changed.
Since the passage of Proposition 13 — the 1978 'taxpayer revolt' against California property taxes — most California cities have focused on generating sales tax. Property tax, which had been the traditional backbone of local revenue, was slashed by 60%, sparking an intense Darwinian struggle between cities for sales tax market share. During the nineties, the cities along the 101 Corridor in Ventura County competed intensely in the “mall wars” over which cities would get auto dealers and major retailers. The City of Ventura read more »
Greece and Los Angeles are up against a financial wall. Los Angeles had its bond rating cut on April 7. Greece managed to hold out until April 9. Greece has endured public employee strikes as it has attempted to reign in bloated public payrolls. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa drew the ire of the city's unions and city council opposition in proposing two-day a week furloughs for city employees.
A Bankrupt Los Angeles? read more »
Health care lays behind him, financial reform and climate change ahead, but for President Barack Obama--and his opponents--there is only one real issue: jobs. The recent employment reports signal some small gains, yet the widespread prognosis for a slow, near-jobless recovery threatens the president and his party more than any major domestic challenge. read more »
A travelling salesman is driving down a country road when he runs over a cat. Seeing a farmhouse nearby, he approaches to confess this unfortunate situation to the pet’s owner. When a woman answers the door, he says, “I’m sorry, but I think I just ran over your cat.” She asks him, “Well, what did it look like?” “Oh, m’am,” he replies, “I completely ran over it, so it was very awful, just a smear on the road…” “Oh, no,” she interrupts, “I mean, what did it look like before you ran over it.” read more »