A brief encounter with tech billionaire Elon Musk three years ago wound up being financially fortuitous for David Murphy.

As co-founder of nonprofit Angelenos Against Gridlock, the 33-year-old Murphy was on the lookout for donors who believed in the group’s goal of bringing a world-class transportation system to Los Angeles County.

After seeing Musk speak at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Murphy stepped up to the microphone and asked the founder of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, if he had any opinions on the traffic problems in Los Angeles.

“He got stuck in traffic on the way to that event, actually,” Murphy recalled of their conversation.

About a month later, Murphy landed a face-to-face meeting with Musk at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne and asked him if he would consider making a donation to support the group’s advocacy efforts, which included pushing for expedited construction of the 405 freeway carpool lane.

Over the course of the next year, Musk donated a total of $100,000, which Murphy said the group used to hold events and coordinate media relations efforts.

“You’d send him an email at 2 a.m. and he’d respond,” said Murphy of working with Musk. “He’s just an incredible person.”

Floating Free

Like many economic observers, Drew Zager believes the Federal Reserve will raise rates before the end of the year. But unlike many others, he’s not rushing to lock in low rates while he can.

“I’ve had a floating-rate mortgage this entire time,” he said. “And I don’t plan on changing that anytime soon.”

Zager, 55, is a managing director at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management in Century City who focuses on investment-grade fixed income.

Zager’s belief is even if the Fed does ratchet up rates, the added cost of locking in a fixed number isn’t worth it given how much room he thinks rates have to run. Lenders usually charge more for fixed-rate loans because they are assuming the interest-rate risk. And he doesn’t see the kind of explosive growth in the economy that might lead the Fed to raise rates high enough to dramatically impact car loans and mortgages. So he’s happy to let it ride.

“Maybe the interest rate goes from 2.1 percent to 2.6 percent,” Zager said. “That’s still incredibly low and cheaper than paying for a fixed rate.”

Staff reporters Omar Shamout and Matt Pressberg contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at ccrumpley@labusinessjournal.com.

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