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A couple of notes:

  • I wrote last week that Steve Francis came up with a kind of new twist on an idea a few of us have been batting around when he said that the new revenue collected by the hoteliers through their Tourism Marketing District should be used to pay for the Convention Center. This would relieve the San Diego city budget of millions in expenses each year.

    But this wasn’t Francis’ idea first, City Councilwoman Donna Frye put out a memo with this very recommendation not too long ago.

    Francis has nothing but praise for Frye. And now he’s championing her ideas. Very interesting.

  • Last week, the U-T painted this story about the housing market correction all over its front page. The piece was full of reasons why people should buy homes now, but one of them really caught my eye.

    Here’s the passage (emphasis added):

    Economist Mark Schniepp of the California Economic Forecast said conditions are right for purchasing a home, if you’re making a long-term investment. Falling prices, surging foreclosures, reasonable mortgage rates and a high inventory of for-sale homes mean there are bargains to be found.

    “I think there is a window of opportunity that will exist between now and summer,” Schniepp said. “Interest rates are only going to fall. The credit crunch is going to get better. There is going to be plenty of inventory. We are not going to have a recession.

    Wow. Most economists choose to hedge their predictions a little more than that. Schniepp, however, is quite certain that no recession is coming.

    I thought I’d give him a call to see how he came to the conclusion.

    He said he never told the U-T that there wouldn’t be a recession. He said he told them the “probability of having one was lower than the probability we won’t have one.”

    He went on:

    “Just because the stock market is melting away doesn’t mean anything,” Schniepp said. “It looks bad from downtown Manhattan but we all have jobs we’re getting pay raises we’re still spending.”

    If you haven’t read it, by the way, Rich Toscano has a great piece today analyzing whether we do, in fact, have all those jobs. Survival in San Diego and a couple of economists picked up on a rather surprising jump in San Diego’s unemployment rate in December — an anomaly because of the traditional holiday hiring that usually takes place.

    Schniepp, by the way, also was certain that the Chargers would lose to the Patriots this weekend by 21 points.

    When I told him I’d take that spread in a bet, he hedged and said it might very well end up closer than that.

    SCOTT LEWIS

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