If This Is Vikram Pandit's Best defence...

vikrampandit perplexed tbi

Does Citigroup (C) need a new CEO as Sheila Bair and many pundits allege?

Rob Cox at BreakingViews says “no,” but after reading his argument we think the answer is even more clearly yes. Basically, his argument boils down to: Pandit didn’t create the mess Citi’s in, he just dithered a lot on all the big questions.

He dithered (Cox’s word) on recognising just how bad of a situation Citigroup was in. He dithered on the Wachovia deal, which ultimately allowed Wells Fargo to swoop in and take it away. He dithered on raising money, etc.

But he hasn’t been impuksive like Ken Lewis, says Cox (pretty much by definition, when you call someone the ditherer), oh and once again, he’s not the one that got the company into this mess.

Please. Pandit should really have one goal, which is to break up the company into a bunch of parts, none of which are systemically important. The idea that the government isn’t mandating this specifically, given our huge stake in it, and given (as James Grant recently observed) that the rogue bank has nearly failed during every crisis there has been, is absurd. But that’s not the direction Pandit wants to go. Instead he’s been talking about expanding internationally, because the growth in the US is just to slow for him.

Sorry, we’re so disappointing to you Vik. Sorry we could not do more to help you.

Unless he’s replaced, it’s doubtful there will be any meaningful changes to the bank we all own. And beyond that, dithering during a crisis of this magnitude should be a fireable offence, even if his main counterpart had the opposite problem.

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