"Poor Mexico: So far from God, so close to the United States," the modernizing dictator

Porfirio Diaz

is supposed to have complained, a century back.

"Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the death of police officers, soldiers, and civilians," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters Wednesday on her way to meet with Mexican leaders. "I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility."

How much is it the fault of pot-smoking, cocaine-inhaling, crack-addicted, gun-loving Americans that Mexico's drug gangs are shooting mayors, beheading policemen, and generally making public life miserable in Juarez and other Mexican cities?

Clinton is mending fences for the United States, at least. Headlines from Mexico's Excelsior and Financiero, and even the anti-yanqui Cuban press, hailed Clinton's admission that the U.S. has a role in the problem. Now what's President Obama going to do about it?

What would Hank do?

"There is no way on God's green earth that any of this would have happened on Hank's watch," said

Sean Sweeney


A corporate headhunter at Bonifield Associates in Mount Laurel, Sweeney was a big believer in American International Group chief executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, with whom he placed his quota of executives during the latter years of Greenberg's 30-plus years as chief executive officer.

Sweeney was a believer: "The man watched every department and subsidiary with a passion."

But doesn't that make it at least partly Greenberg's fault what went so wrong after he was forced out of the company he built in 2005?

"AIG [was] a one-eyed octopus, and that one eye was Hank. When he left, it became blind," Sweeney said. "Maybe it is impossible for one person to control such a mammoth institution."

And didn't Greenberg get AIG involved way too deep with subprime lending, including through its Fort Washington-based Wilmington Finance Inc. subsidiary? "They were handing out money like government cheese," Sweeney agreed. "But isn't that what the feds [wanted]?"

Fund me again

While billionaire

George Soros

is predicting a big drop in U.S. commercial real estate values, some investors have been able to persuade banks to refinance.

Liberty Property Trust, of Philadelphia, has refinanced $317 million in debt on 51 mostly industrial properties in six portfolios covering parts of the Lehigh Valley, central Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, and Texas, at an average rate of 7.1 percent, says spokeswoman Jeanne Leonard.

This allows Liberty to pay off $320 million in previous, mostly unsecured, financings, on which Liberty was paying 7.8 percent, Leonard said.

About half of the debt was placed in three-year floating-rate loans (with two one-year renewal options), the other half in fixed-rate seven-year loans. "Given the capital-constrained environment, we are very pleased," chief executive Bill Hankowsky said in a statement.

Rates are moving down, but they're still higher than the 6.15 percent Liberty paid for its $324 million mortgage on Comcast Center two years ago, when the benchmark prime and Libor rates were higher, but commercial real estate lenders weren't so jittery.

Meanwhile, Keystone Properties Group, of Devon, has refinanced One and Two Devon Square and paid for improvements with a $24.57 million two-year floating-rate loan from TD Banknorth Inc.

"All of the regional banks are active in the market, but they're taking a long time to do the deals," and they're giving borrowers extra scrutiny, said Patrick Brala, chief financial officer at Keystone. He wouldn't give the rate, but he said it was "competitive."

Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and Penn Liberty Bank are the main tenants at the 142,000-square-foot office complex, which is 80 percent leased. It was less than 40 percent leased when Keystone bought it for $17 million in 2000, Brala said.