Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.
I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.
Some good news on Friday: The labor market remained in solid shape last month, adding 157,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.9% and wage growth improved — although workers are still waiting for significant gains in their purchasing power because prices are also rising. The July job creation report fell well short of analyst expectations, but figures for May and June were revised upward by 59,000.
Consumer credit: The latest stats on consumer borrowing will be released by the Federal Reserve on Tuesday. In May, total consumer credit increased $24.6 billion to a seasonally adjusted $3.9 trillion. That’s an annual growth rate of 7.6%, which is the fastest pace of credit growth since November.
Living wage: Friday is the deadline for the Anaheim city attorney’s office to draft an impartial analysis of a ballot measure that would require Disneyland and other large hospitality companies in the city to pay a living wage. The measure, supported by unions representing workers at the resort, will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Price watch: Inflation has been rising and the latest read will come Friday when the consumer price index is released. Analysts forecast another uptick to a 3% annual rate, which would be the highest since 2011. The Fed has been raising a key interest rate to keep inflation tamed.
Chomp: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. No, wait, that was another shark and another movie. This time a super-shark squares off against Jason Statham in “The Meg,” opening Friday. The trailer features all the quiet nuance you’d expect from a mise en scene of this sort.
Some guys don’t know when to quit. Monday’s Business section explores the phenomenon of company founders who just can’t take a hint. Fifty-three company founders have been accused of personal misconduct this year. Stepping down were 35, but not without a bitter fight. Nearly a third of founders facing accusations remain in place, and some of those who have officially departed have still managed to stay involved.
Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:
Trade war update: China announced a $60 billion list of U.S. goods — including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals — for retaliation if Washington goes ahead with its latest threat to hike duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. President Trump had proposed 10% tariffs on everything from frozen meats to industrial chemicals and tires, but told trade officials last week to consider raising it to 25%.
Executive scandal: The board of CBS allowed Leslie Moonves to remain on the job as the media company’s chairman and chief executive while an independent probe is conducted into allegations he sexually harassed several woman decades ago. Two high-profile female attorneys were hired to lead the probe, including Mary Jo White, the no-nonsense former chairwoman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Big Apple: The company that was co-founded by Steve Jobs in a Silicon Valley garage, Apple Inc., and later revolutionized computing, music and mobile communications became the first U.S. company with a market value of $1 trillion. Other tech giants are not far behind, with Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp. worth more than $800 billion each.
Winning by losing: Tesla reported another big loss for the second quarter — $717.5 million, larger than expected and more than double the same quarter of a year earlier. But it burned less cash along the way to ramping up production of its “bet-the-company” Model 3 electric sedan. That stopped a recent stock slide even as short sellers maintain the company is overvalued.
Tearjerker: Fan favorite MoviePass appears on its last legs. The New York-based company promised to revolutionize the cinema business by allowing consumers to watch a movie a day for about $10 a month. But the subscription service has been bleeding cash, forcing it to take out an emergency loan, raise its monthly fee to $14.95 and impose growing restrictions on its service.
WHAT WE’RE READING
And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:
Do not pass Go: A home run from the Daily Beast, which tells the amazing story of how a McDonald’s Monopoly game was rigged. “Jerome Jacobson and his network of mobsters, psychics, strip-club owners and drug traffickers won almost every prize for 12 years, until the FBI launched Operation ‘Final Answer.’”
Hill of beans: The Wall Street Journal serves up a tasty tale about how trade-war tariffs are biting into farm country. One farmer says “80 shipping containers’ worth of kidney beans, valued at a total of $2 million, are stuck in its warehouses as orders from Europe dry up.”
Trouble ahead? The economic expansion is nine years old. That got the New York Times wondering what it would take to derail things and usher in another recession. They figured there are three big hazards. “An ill-timed end of fiscal stimulus, a corporate debt bubble and the trade war are the things that could most easily end it.”
Easy money: The Atlantic looks at Jeff Bezos’ $150 billion fortune and sees a policy failure, “an indictment of a tax and transfer system and a business and regulatory environment designed to supercharging the earnings of and encouraging wealth accumulation among the few.”
Too many friends: How much does it cost to keep Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg safe? A big chunk of change, says Bloomberg. “Security at multiple residences, transportation, a protection team, cyber, travel — if you also have a wife and a few kids, you’re already over $10 million just for a basic package,” one security expert says.
That story about keeping Mark Zuckerberg in fine fettle got me thinking about songs that involve safety. Men Without Hats cast a long shadow with “The Safety Dance.” Don’t overlook offerings from Capital Cities, Taylor Swift and David Bowie. But my new favorite safety song is this one, which helpfully reminds that you want to be safe in the workplace, not sorry.
For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Laurence Darmiento and Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.