What Goldman gets from PA

Goldman Sachs' plan to lend $15 million to smaller Philadelphia and Lancaster area businesses, and finance $5 million in small-business education at Philadelphia Community College, which my colleague Mike Armstrong wrote about here, isn't just charity.

Goldman has its "Vampire Squid" reputation (for profiting by trading against its own clients) to improve. It also has a lucrative Pennsylvania business to protect: The firm underwrote nearly $600 million in Pennsylvania tax-free municipal bonds last year alone, which means it collected close on $6 million in municipal bond fees -- not counting other government loans, corporate and private sector business in the Keystone State.

Goldman ranked among the top 10 PA muni issuers last year. #1 is Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, with RBC/Citizens, PNC, locals Boenning & Scattergood and Janney Montgomery Scott, Barclays and Morgan Stanley rounding out the list, according to Thomson Reuters Corp. data.

"Goldman would like to improve that," said a rival banker, who notes that Goldman enjoyed lucrative PA deals back when Tom Ridge was governor, and hopes to improve its standing here in the Corbett era. 

Indeed, the late George M. Ross, long Goldman's top man in Pennsylvania, was so successful at building connections while helping politicians put Pennsylvania taxpayers into debt that the West Philadelphia native was able to secure establishment of the $150 million National American Jewish History Museum for his hometown, as the New York Times reported here when he died in 2011.