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Archive: June, 2009

POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 12:09 PM

Fannie Mae's home loan portfolio zoomed to $790 billion in May, passing last year's record.

What happens when you lend more money in a weak economy? "Seriously delinquent" loans jumped to 3.42% in May, from 3.15% in April. Check Fannie's new data here. Loans on Page One, losses on Page Two.

They're backing more loans - which is what Obama wants - but more loans are going bad - not surprising in a slump - but plenty costly, since Fannie is backed by us taxpayers.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:09 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 11:53 AM

This summer's gasoline glut (despite higher speculative oil costs), the weak economy and an expansion in foreign refining capacity has Goldman Sachs' energy analysts urging investors to sell Sunoco, Valero, Tesoro and other U.S. refining stocks. Link to MarketWatch summary here.

Seems unfair, no? The gas retailers get all the blame for higher prices, but they don't get to enjoy the higher profits, which go to (mostly) foreign oil producers, and speculators, like hedge and pension funds.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 11:53 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 6:49 AM

Writes ex-Phillies star turned investment pitchman Lenny Dykstra, in an email, of his former online home: " is owned by Jim Cramer, for whom I had always held tremendous respect. Nonetheless, I am disappointed with as they truly let me and my followers down. As far as the reasons behind my absence at, I can only guess. However, it seems that perhaps jealousy or greed may have been a factor.

"As many of you know, my newsletter was the #1 such publication in the history of, and I therefore presume that I was cast off to so that the might attempt to duplicate my strategy and make it their own.

"Today, when you type in "Lenny Dykstra" at, Jon Najasrian comes up as he was apparently meant to replace me. I am no longer associated with and have no control over their actions. Although I am saddened by the situation, I nonetheless love what I do and am as committed as ever to continuing to serve my subscribers." He wants fans to check out his "new home" at


Joseph N. DiStefano @ 6:49 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009, 4:57 PM

Barron's readers will remember the hairy old bit of stock-chart-watcher-speak -- the "dead cat bounce" -- the kind of price jump that doesn't mean anything, because even a dead cat will bounce, if you drop it from high enough.

We're happy to report that S&P 500 stocks rose 15 percent for the second quarter. Bloomberg, trying hard not to sound at all hopeful, says that's the biggest three-month jump in six years. For what that's worth.

Do you really figure the economy's strong enough, that listed companies are becoming profitable enough, to sustain and justify that kind of price inflation? For the sake of America's pension funds, I hope you're right.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 4:57 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, June 29, 2009, 12:13 PM

Re Bernard Madoff's 150-year sentence for defrauding investors today: Albert S. Dandridge 3d, a two-time former senior Securities and Exchange Commission official who's now chairman of the securities practice at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP Philadelphia, writes:

"I am not surprised by the 150 year sentence Judge Chin handed down to Bernard Madoff today. Notwithstanding the massive fraud that took place, and the severe losses individuals and entities sustained, I believe the Court probably realizes that Bernie Madoff could not have acted alone in such a huge Ponzi scheme. Madoff was probably going to spend the rest of his life in prison no matter what.

"However, I believe a message is being sent to those who may have been participants in this fraud with Bernie Madoff. Such a sentence will give the SEC and DOJ leverage with respect to such persons to get to the bottom of the scheme, notwithstanding Bernie Madoff’s non-cooperation."

ALSO: "The sentence is of significance to the investors and it sends a loud message to others," said Richard A. Levan, a Philadelphia securities lawyer and former assistant U.S. attorney in Washington DC and senior SEC trial lawyer in Philadelphia whose clients include a Madoff "feeder fund" whose investors lost money.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 12:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, June 29, 2009, 7:43 AM

The 'cap-and-trade' clean-energy bill, which would penalize oil and coal carbon-burners, and subsidize wind, water, solar power, passed the U.S. House of Representatives Friday by a tight 219-212  margin. The Pennsylvania delegation. under pressure by coal and factory owners, voted No, with four of the 12 Democrats joining all seven Republicans in opposition, writes Josh Drobnyk in the Allentown Morning Call's Pennsylvania Avenue blog here.

Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., whose district sprawls Chester, Berks and western Montgomery counties, is a greenish Republican who considered backing the bill but in the end joined his factory-owning, job-preserving, nervous constituents in opposing the bill. Gerlach's statement here. Phillydeals wrote about Gerlach's dilemma last week here.

The bill faces a tough climb in the US Senate, writes Bloomberg here.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 7:43 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, June 27, 2009, 9:38 AM

This blog has grown to about 70,000 hits a month. It's written by me, Joe DiStefano, as a base for my print column, also called PhillyDeals, which I write for the Philadelphia Inquirer five days a week.

Not everything in the blog gets into the column, and not everything in the column gets into the blog. Here's what you may have missed if you only read the blog and not the columns this week:

Sunday -- Beneficial Bank and broker Janney missed the sell-off of old Philadelphia companies because they're old-fashioned mutuals, owned by customers and run by insiders. Now they're growing, as their national rivals founder.

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 9:38 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009, 1:10 PM

NJ Gov. Corzine on Thursday signed a plan that, unless opposed by the General Assembly, would separate the  Cooper University Hospital Physicians group that teaches at the Camden campus of New Brunswick-based Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and reattach them to Glassboro-based Rowan University as a new, South Jersey-based medical school -- Cooper Medical School of Rowan University -- with its own new medical school buildings in Camden, built by Rowan, with borrowed money.

The effect is to give Cooper, and chairman George Norcross, a business insurance broker and Democratic Party fundraiser, its own medical school and a big pile of money, contracts and jobs.

According to a Cooper document Norcross sent me and other reporters, the idea is to keep medical students and patients from leaving the state for Philadelphia rivals like Penn, Jefferson and Temple. "And further, because medical schools create at least $5 in economic activity for every $1 spent, we will be creating an economic driver," according to the statement. "It is a stimulus-type project."

Joseph N. DiStefano @ 1:10 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at and his Inquirer columns at Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph N. at or 215 854 5194.

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