Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Citigroup: The fall of a giant


Citigroup, once the world's biggest financial services firm, still with 300K employees worldwide, will announce their 4Q 2008 earnings Friday. It is expected to be dismal. Their stock today hit a low of about $4.50 a share. They are planning to cut themselves down to a third of their formal glory.

And all this, while receiving TWO bailouts from the US TARP fund totaling $45 Billion.

As a former employee (I left over a year and half ago), I am amazed. When I joined the company, it's stock was at about $35/share. Its future looked bright and landing a job at the company meant a lifelong career, if you played your cards right.

Today? People still want to go, but that lifelong career option is quickly fading.

However, Citigroup is representative of many companies in the US. Sure, while the CDS issues and general stock market malaise has contributed to Citigroup's downfall, just like the other failing/failed companies (GM, AIG, Chrysler, Lehman, etc), the root causes of the problems came from within.

Its management never fully integrated any acquisitions. Management was paid to maximize annual profits, and they did. Unfortunately, too often, annual profit maximization led to wild speculation and taking on mountains of undeterminable risk.

And so the government came up with a great plan: keep management in power but give them more money.


The problem isn't the lack of money. The problem is the lack of management.

Why doesn't anyone see this?

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