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.
Today is Cyber Monday, which means the shopping spree that officially began on Black Friday continues. Millions of consumers are expected to head online in search of deals, particularly for tech and electronics. But don’t fret if you miss out. There will be plenty of online bargains for the remainder of the year.
Home prices: The latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of home prices will be released Tuesday. In August, prices rose 5.8% nationally compared with a year before. That was less than the 6% annual gain in July.
Economic growth: Third-quarter gross domestic product will be revealed by the Commerce Department on Wednesday. GDP rose at a 4.2% annualized rate in the second quarter, up from the 2.2% pace in the January-March period.
Consumer spending: Consumer spending in October will be spotlighted Thursday. Spending rose for a seventh straight month in September, but income recorded its smallest gain in more than a year because of tepid wage growth.
At theaters: Among movies opening this week, families may be interested in “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle,” the latest retelling of “The Jungle Book,” this time directed by Andy Serkis (who played Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings”). Then there’s “Anna and the Apocalypse,” which is a Christmas movie. And a musical. With zombies.
In the United States more than almost anywhere else, wealth and income are concentrated among business owners and landlords. And that club is becoming increasingly difficult to join. Business owners and landlords tend to be about four times as wealthy as the average American. That’s more than in almost any other country, a new study has found. On the other end of the spectrum, U.S. renters tend to have about an eighth as much wealth as the average American.
Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:
Bearing down: There may not be an alert on your iPhone yet, but it looks as if the years-long stock market party might just be over — a victim of time, tariffs and growing anxiety that the economy has peaked. A plunge in technology shares early last week led to a broader rout and by Friday the S&P 500 index had fallen into correction territory, or a drop of 10% below its most recent all-time high in September.
Amazon effect: It turns out that not even Swedish retailing giant Ikea and its assemble-it-yourself furniture are immune to the online shopping revolution. The company said it will cut 7,500 jobs worldwide as part of a plan to cater more to online customers by opening 30 more convenient stores in urban centers and by investing in its e-commerce and delivery services.
Dimming star: There wasn’t a bigger executive in the automotive industry: Carlos Ghosn, the jet-setting chief of a global alliance that spanned Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan and Renault. Then Ghosn was arrested and accused of underreporting his compensation to Japanese securities regulators and fired as Nissan chairman. Ghosn has not been convicted of any crimes and Japanese broadcaster NHK reported he has denied the allegations.
Real life disaster : Netflix’s teen drama series “13 Reasons Why” was shooting in Vallejo when the massive Camp fire broke out, forcing the show to halt production. Location managers say the scale of the recent statewide fires and their effect on production is unprecedented. Some prime locations in Southern California — including Paramount Ranch, which serves as a set for HBO’s “Westworld” — experienced extensive damage.
Tight quarters: How bad is the housing shortage in Los Angeles and other booming cities? This bad: A growing number of companies are selling dividing walls or curtains to create new bedrooms. Others are filling rooms with bunk beds. And some — armed with Silicon Valley backing — are offering a variety of sleeping situations and services that make it easier to find roommates and live with them.
WHAT WE’RE READING
And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:
Petri dishes: Wired says airports were quick to realize that Uber and Lyft were totally screwing up traffic. Now they serve as models for how to deal with the ride-hailing services. “These hubs, you see, are harbingers of traffic. They’re busy, they’re chock-full of useful information on comings and goings, and they’re better about adapting to new technology than most of their public infrastructure brethren.”
Deck the halls: The Wall Street Journal spotlights the growing trend of collecting skateboard decks as works of art. One art-market expert calls skateboards “an affordable entry point to understanding and living with contemporary art.”
Gossip Cop: The New York Times checks out Gossip Cop, a site that purports to debunk celebrity rumors. But who’s keeping tabs on Gossip Cop? “In an effort not to be ‘spun,’ we have, for lack of a better phrase, a ‘social contract’ with the stars, the reps and anyone else with whom we work,” the site says. “If you lie to Gossip Cop, we won’t work with you again.”
Smile: The Atlantic wonders who would spend $17 on a tube of luxury toothpaste. “High-end toothpaste is just like any other entry-level luxury good: In addition to its straightforward use, any luxury product also serves as a status-signaler, whether guests spot your expensive toothpaste after excusing themselves to your bathroom or your followers see it in the corner of an Instagrammed skin-care collection.”
Stage left: The New Yorker profiles Natalie Wynn of the progressive YouTube channel ContraPoints. “She is one of the few Internet demi-celebrities who is as clever as she thinks she is, and one of the few leftists anywhere who can be nuanced without being boring.”
In an extraordinary video posted on YouTube, hedge-fund manager James Cordier sits in a brown leather chair, stares into the camera and haltingly tells his clients that he likely lost all their money — maybe as much as $150 million. “I am so sorry for not managing our ship and keeping her afloat,’’ he says, his voice breaking. Bloomberg calls the recording “the hedge-fund equivalent of a hostage video.”
For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Laurence Darmiento for helping put this thing together.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.