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Archive: February, 2009

POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009, 2:30 AM

Because health care plays such a big role in the Philadelphia economy, any time change is in the air it gets a lot of attention here.

President Obama’s first budget proposal calls for spending $634 billion over the next 10 years to modernize health care.

Investors’ first instinct was to sell. Yesterday, most health-care stocks finished lower.

POSTED: Thursday, February 26, 2009, 2:30 AM
Filed Under: Consumer Products | Technology

Plenty of markets may be hurting during these times of crisis, but the secondary market for gift cards apparently isn’t one of them.

Nearly everyone’s gotten a gift card, and frequently they’re for stores we’d never go to. That translates into hundreds of millions of dollars of gift-card value that go unused every year, says research firm TowerGroup.

To address that need, several online businesses emerged to take those cards off our hands, including eBay. Mike Kelly and his wife, MJ, started one of the first - a Langhorne business called Swapagift.com, in 2003. It’s a Web site where you buy, trade or sell gift cards.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 10:51 AM
Filed Under: People | Technology

There's a new man at the top of SAP America Inc.'s operations in Newtown Square.

Rob Enslin today was named president of SAP North America. A 15-year SAP veteran, Enslin had been chief operating officer and executive vice president of Fast Growth Markets for Global Field Operations. (Whew, that's a lot of ink on a business card.)

If you want to read his bio, SAP has posted it here.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 2:30 AM

Golf is not a sport I follow.

So, the only reason that I know Phil Mickelson won the Northern Trust Open on Sunday is because the House Financial Services Committee doesn’t follow golf either.

If those lawmakers did, they wouldn’t been surprised to learn that a bank that had received capital as part of the $700 billion financial-rescue plan, sponsored the PGA Tour event in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 4:51 PM
Filed Under: Investing, Markets

The Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee do not want banks that have received capital through the Treasury Department to be sponsoring golf tournaments.

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of that committee, and 16 other Congressmen sent a letter to the CEO of Northern Trust Co. say they were "dismayed and angered" that the bank had spent millions of dollars on the Northern Trust Open in Pacific Palisades, Calif, last weekend.

And they "insist that you immediately return" the equivalent of what Northern Trust "frittered away" on hosting clients and employees at the Beverly Wilshire and Ritz Carlton hotels and the Tiffany souvenirs it gave away.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 2:56 PM
Filed Under: Executive Pay

At least 100 public companies will face shareholder proposals on executive compensation this spring, according to a shareholder advocacy group.

The Social Investment Forum posted a list of the 100 companies here. The local companies facing such "say-on-pay" votes are: Charming Shoppes, Comcast and DuPont. Other companies with large local operations include: Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin and Merck & Co., as well as banks Wachovia/Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Here's what the "say-on-pay" vote supporters want: a management-sponsored, non-binding advisory vote on executive compensation presented in the annual proxy statement. Investors who back "say-on-pay" resolutions include labor unions, asset managers, public pension funds, foundations and religious organizations.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 2:11 PM
Filed Under: Economic Development

The Philadelphia region is likely to get more than $600 million from the $48.1 billion committed to transportation projects in the new economic-stimulus program.

That's number is courtesy of the numbers crunchers at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.

(Remember: the entire cost of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was $787 billion.)

POSTED: Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 2:30 AM

At its creative height, Wall Street was spawning so many new types of securities that new companies were springing up to meet the demand.

Alesco Financial Inc., of Philadelphia, was one of them. Started in January 2006 by the local investment firm Cohen & Co. , Alesco specialized on investing in trust-preferred securities and mortgage-backed securities.

With the benefit of hindsight in 2009, you can guess what happened. The credit crisis that began as a reaction to excesses in the specialized securities that wound up wrecking Wall Street.

About this blog
Mike Armstrong blogs about Philadelphia corporations and business-related topics. Contact him at 215-854-2980. Reach Mike at marmstrong@phillynews.com.

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