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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: April, 2011

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 2:22 PM

State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, has introduced a longshot bill that would lower Pennsylvania's top corporate tax rate to 7.4% (from just under 10%) but would also cost some giant companies more by making it tougher to use Delaware subsidiaries to legally shelter profits they make in Pennsylvania from Pennsylvania income taxes.

North Carolina, New Jersey and Ohio, among other states, have passed similar measures. But previous bills designed to "close the Delaware loophole" under ex-Gov. Rendell died when they hit the GOP-controlled state Senate, under majority leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Del., whose brother Francis G.X. Pileggi is a Wilmington corporate lawyer.

Mundy's pitching her bill as a way to force "large corporations like Wal-Mart and ExxonMobil," which are based out of state, to pay "their fair share of taxes to Pennsylvania."

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 1:56 PM

The Federal Reserve says we're only in a "moderate" recovery now. Statement here. It no longer sees a "firmer footing" for the economy, as in past statements, notes Philadelphia economist Joel Naroff.

The vote today was unanimous, with inflation-fighting conservatives like Philadelphia Fed president Charles I. Plosser falling in line under stimulus-friendly Chairman Ben Bernanke, after opposing him when the economy seemed a little stronger. It's as if the weak economy has scared higher prices away, so the Fed has decided it's not time to boost the price of money just yet.

And yet... "Food prices are on their way up," for "all the major commodities, corn, soybeans, weat, rice," due to $4 a gallon gasoline, rising Chinese demand for US beef and pork, drought in Mexico, and other long-term and short-term factors, US Department of Agriculture - Economic Research Service chief economist Richard Volpe told a conference sponsored by Philadelphia-based Janney Capital Markets just yesterday.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 9:04 AM

Apple Computer is trying to calm everyone down about the way it tracks iPhone users, with a new Apple company question-and-answer statement that says they're not really spying on us, and besides it's good for us. Excerpts:

Why is my iPhone logging my location?

The iPhone is not logging your location. Rather, it’s maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location... Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 4:51 PM

Four days before Ben Bernanke gave the first-ever Federal Reserve Chairman press conference to defend his cheap-money policy, more than 100 demonstrators descended on the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia to cheerfully demand the nation's central banking system shut down.

Supporters of US Rep. and Presidential hopeful Ron Paul, R-Texas, libertarian- and tea party-backed author of the book End the Fed and current head of the House banking subcommittee for monetary policy, the Fed-killers held their third yearly Philadelphia "Fedstock" festival, complete with live music.

Fedstock organizers are small-business operators who see government, not as a safety net against life's threatened hardships, or the expression of our national aspirations, but an expensive obstacle to getting things done. James Babb runs an employers' help-wanted direct-mail and magazine advertising service. Rob Pepe owns an industrial-filter manufacturing business out in Montgomery County. Mike Salvi sells homes. Darren Wolfe is a business-website salesman who moonlights as a chess instructor.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 3:56 PM

BlackRock, the New York investment giant, manages one-eighth of the shrunken $29 billion-asset Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System (which, after years of underfinancing and the late stock market collapse, has $2 available for every $3 it expects to owe state worker retirees, and will require a $1 billion+ state subsidy next year, up from $725 million last year).

At its board meeting today SERS's board of politicians, pensioner representatives and Gov. Corbett appointees dropped one of its BlackRock funds for failing to meet its target. According to SERS, "Over the past 10 years, (BlackRock's) Alpha Tilts Fund failed to achieve the goal," which was "to outperform the S&P 500 Index."

Alpha Tilts had a ten-year record of "underperforming the S&P 500 by 0.1%" after discounting fees - which consumed $435,000, or 0.3%, of the state's $157 million Alpha Tilts investment, last year alone.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2011, 3:23 PM

Children's Place is leaving Walnut St. for 1535 Chestnut St. across from Shoppes at Liberty Place. Metro Commercial Real Estate local boss Steven Gartner says his VP Dan Brickner signed the kid-stuff retailer to the site for landlord Brahin Properties. (Corrected)

Krispy Kreme has also signed for a space at 1535 Chestnut, with Metro's Mike Gorman, who is scouting other properties for the Southern sticky dessert chain's attempt to return to Philly.

Meanwhile "British goods for the University crowd" purveyor Jack Wills has agreed to fill the former Jennifer Convertibles location at 1617 Walnut St. The chain also has stores around Boston. Metro's Gartner and Gorman signed the deal with landlord Rosenberg Family Trust. Michael Salove and Madison Retail Group represented Wills.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 8:49 AM

(Updated) David Baldt, a veteran municipal bond investor and former head of two Center City-based mutual funds for Schroders Plc, has been barred from the securities business and ordered to repay $9,400 in "insider trading" profits from 2008.

Administrative Law Judge Robert Mahony's opinion follows an SEC cease-and-desist order last year and a hearing at which Baldt represented himself. According to testimony at that hearing, Baldt warned a family member to dump the fund, after Schroders forced Baldt, over his objections, to liquidate bonds into a temporarily depressed market where he could only get minimal "vulture" prices, in order to please Wachovia Bank and other big Schroder clients who wanted out. 

Read Mahony's opinion here. Excerpt:


David Baldt Decision
POSTED: Wednesday, April 20, 2011, 12:20 PM

Who is the only Phillies pitcher to win 15 games and save 15 games in the same season?

Beats me. But last time Villanova businessman Lou Orlando wrote up a list of hundreds of questions for the Ultimate Phillies Trivia Book, in 1993, he sold 9,000 copies, going straight to Barnes & Noble, Atlantic Books, Borders and Encore as his own publisher and delivery man. He was ready to run a second printing when the 1994 Major League Baseball strike clobbered sales.

Orlando's since retired from his day jobs, having sold both his companies (TDN Money Systems, Aspen Home Health Services). Now he's ready with an updated, all-online Volume 2 of his Phils trivia book, at his Web site, http://shoplouieorlando.com,

About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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