Are American investors too stunned to sue?

"We are currently in the midst of chaos. People and organizations are still figuring out their losses. They haven't started litigating," says

W. Bradley Baturka

, managing director at the Wayne office of publicly traded litigation consultants



"You have people who lost money on asset-backed securities. You have the equity investors in the company who bought them. You have the rating agencies who gave these securities triple-A ratings. You have management at these companies, who maybe didn't disclose their losses or their positions."

Lawyers "are out there studying claims and courses of action," Baturka said. "What theory and concept will be most likely to be successful? Who'll be left standing to go after?

"My view is that there'll be an increase in litigation once the economy starts on a recovery."

A singular woman

Judy Spires

is Philadelphia's most important grocer, bossing 16,000 workers at 130 stores as president of

Supervalu Inc.'s


Acme Markets Inc


She can trace the slower economy by the shift in store sales. People are buying less meat, and more rice, beans, pasta and flour. "For the first time in 20 years, the restaurant business is dwindling; people are turning the dining room and kitchen lights back on," she said. "We are benefiting from that."

Spires joined Acme as a bagger 30 years ago while a student at St. Mary of the Angels Academy (now Bishop Eustace Prep). When she told her dad, who drove an Acme bread truck, that she wanted to make groceries her career, "his response was, 'Great decision. People always have to eat.' "

At 25, she ran Acme's Medford store. Later, with two degrees from LaSalle University, where she's now a trustee, she ran divisions for Acme's former owner,


in Denver and Dallas. Three years ago, she won the top Acme job.


Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

tapped Spires yesterday for its Paradigm Award, which goes yearly "to a singular woman in business."

"Her story's compelling," said

William R. Sasso

, chairman of

Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young L.L.P

., who nominated Spires. "It's kind of the American dream. And since she came back to Philadelphia, you see her out and about all the time. She does a lot for this community."

Spires and her husband moved to Old City after she took the top Acme job. When's she moving her headquarters downtown? "I'd love to," she told me. If the right deal comes along.

Quirks of globalism

Ron Griffin,

who owns the

Pudgie Pelican

restaurant in Avalon, says he's been waving Tuesday's Inquirer Business section at his customers and asking if anyone can figure out how

Citigroup Inc.

, which last month got a $20 billion troubled-bank investment from U.S. taxpayers, can afford to pay a reported $10 billion to buy turnpike operator

Itinere Infraestructuras

from a European investment group?

"We're giving them $20 billion, and they're spending half of it on a Spanish highway company?" Griffin asked me. "Don't we have needs in this country? My customers are educated people, but we're all just shaking our heads."

Citi spokesman

Jon Diat

reminded me that Citi wasn't buying Itinere with its own (or our) money. It's buying the company for a group of investment clients, with their money. Citi needs fees from jobs like that to stay in business - even with taxpayer help.

But Griffin's question raises a larger point: By rescuing Citi,

American International Group Inc.

and some other big companies whose clients are mostly foreign, U.S. taxpayers are boosting finance and investments in many countries that compete with us.

This is where globalism and free trade have brought us. The government is trying to help rescue not just U.S. industries, lenders or jobs, but the whole dollar-driven global economy. The idea is that what's good for Citi, and Spain, and Singapore, helps the whole world economy, which is good for the United States. Even the Jersey Shore.

Though if the Penguin's diners are like most people I know, they'd just as soon get a personal piece of that $20 billion.