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mahatmakanejeeves Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 10:22 AM
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73. The Worst Big Bank on Wall Street?
Edited on Fri Nov-25-11 10:24 AM by mahatmakanejeeves
The Worst Big Bank on Wall Street?

By John Reeves

In his new book, Exile on Wall Street, {Mike Mayo, a bank analyst who has been covering Wall Street for more than 20 years,} argues that the big Wall Street banks are set up nowadays to take excessive risks, while providing outsized compensation for bankers. And despite numerous though lightly enforced regulations, the federal government is there to bail these institutions out when things go wrong.

Mayo believes that Citigroup, which he describes as the "poster child for the financial industry's problems," provides a perfect example of all that is wrong with our big banks right now. The two chapters that he devotes to Citi are very disturbing.

A dubious track record
Mayo shows us that over the past decade Citi has been "involved in virtually every major financial screw-up, from Enron to WorldCom, to the analyst scandals of the tech bubble, to the mortgage fiasco." And this has cost shareholders a lot of money. Mayo calculates that this dubious track record has resulted in "about $100 billion in pre-tax losses from fines, settlements, reserves, or writedowns from 2001 to 2010."

Perhaps more troubling is that Citi's entire history reveals a similar recklessness. Mayo notes that the company has "come close to failing six times in its history." And on many occasions it has required a federal bailout to remain in business. Sadly, a predictable pattern has emerged during the course of Citi's history. First, it takes excessive risks and then gets into trouble. At that point, the government has to "step in simply so it can survive." Ultimately, new regulations are created, which Citi "grumbles about and then doesn't follow anyway."
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