10/29/2012 archive

“The Security Officer will escort you while you collect your personal belongings.”

Citi Chairman Is Said to Have Planned Chief’s Exit Over Months


Published: October 25, 2012

Mr. Pandit, the chief executive of Citigroup, was told three news releases were ready. One stated that Mr. Pandit had resigned, effective immediately. Another that he would resign, effective at the end of the year. The third release stated Mr. Pandit had been fired without cause. The choice was his.

The abrupt encounter, described by three people briefed on the conversation, included a terse comment by the chairman, Michael E. O’Neill: “The board has lost confidence in you.”

As Mr. Pandit was reeling from his encounter, three board members confronted John Havens, the bank’s chief operating officer and a longtime lieutenant.

“Vikram has offered his resignation, and we would like to give you the opportunity to offer yours,” a board member said, following a script prepared by the board’s lawyers, according to several people with knowledge of the meeting.

This week, senior executives at the investment bank convened a group of employees to try to stem any exodus, according to several people briefed on the meeting. Among the employees’ questions: why remain at a bank that treated its top executive so harshly?

Messy Breakup Ends Citi’s Rocky Relationship With Vikram Pandit

By Matt Egan, FOXBusiness

Published October 16, 2012

“I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did,” said Charles Geisst, a professor at Manhattan College.

Shareholders clearly were not happy with Citi’s financial performance as its shares had plunged almost 90% since Pandit became CEO in December 2007. By comparison, shares of J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average are down own 8% and less than 1% respectively over that span.

There’s a long list of setbacks on Pandit’s watch, including most recently a $4.7 billion charge tied to an overvaluation of Citi’s stake in the Smith Barney joint venture, which it is selling off in pieces to Morgan Stanley (MS). Citi had pegged the JV’s price tag at $22 billion, well north of an eventual settlement at $13.5 billion.

Also, Pandit and Citigroup were embarrassed in March after the Federal Reserve gave the bank’s plan to return capital to shareholders a red light, leading some to say it had failed the government’s stress tests.

“The corporate governance, whether it’s been in the last few years or the last few hours, has been awful,” said (Citigroup analyst at Credit Agricole) Mayo.

Citigroup Pays Fine and Fires Star Technology Analyst

By BEN PROTESS, The New York Times

October 26, 2012, 11:41 am

Citigroup paid a $2 million fine and fired a prominent technology analyst after authorities accused the bank of improperly leaking to the media unpublished information about YouTube and confidential research on Facebook’s initial public offering.

In May, the junior Citigroup analyst e-mailed two TechCrunch employees to say “I am ramping up coverage of FB and thought you guys might like to see how the street is thinking about it (and our estimates).” He attached a “Facebook one pager,” that featured an array of confidential information, including Mr. Mahaney’s private revenue estimates meant as an internal guide for the bank’s analysts.

Under securities rules and a nondisclosure agreement with Facebook, Citigroup analysts were banned from “disseminating written research” about the social networking giant until 40 days after the I.P.O. The restriction, which applied to all banks that helped take Facebook public in May, was created to prevent research analysts from improperly promoting companies in a bid to drum up business for bankers.

The rules were reinforced in a landmark 2003 settlement with several banks, including Citigroup. The case, led by a former New York attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, built a Chinese wall between Wall Street research analysts and investment bankers.

Don’t steal any paperclips Vikram.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: Surveillance and Accountability

Nearly seven years after the disclosure of President George W. Bush’s secret program of spying on Americans without a warrant, the Supreme Court is about to hear arguments on whether judges can even consider the constitutionality of doing this kind of dragnet surveillance without adequate rules to protect people’s rights.

President Obama’s solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr., will be calling on the court to toss out the case based on a particularly cynical Catch-22: Because the wiretaps are secret and no one can say for certain that their calls have been or will be monitored, no one has standing to bring suit over the surveillance. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected that avoidance of accountability, and so should the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit the Justice Department is trying so hard to block concerns the 2008 statute amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The new law retroactively approved Mr. Bush’s legally dubious warrantless wiretapping and conferred immunity from prosecution on the telephone companies that cooperated in the program.

Robert Kuttner: Obama and the Economy

Thanks to his exceptional luck in drawing Romney as his opponent, Obama will probably win a narrow re-election despite the dismal recovery. But on Wednesday morning, a struggle begins within the Democratic Party to save him (and us) from himself — to keep him from agreeing to a budget deal that will only slow growth, needlessly sacrifice Social Security and Medicare, and make the next four years much like the last four years.

What a waste, what a pity. Progressive Democrats should be resisting the economic lunacy and political sway of an extremist Republican Party. Instead, they will be working to keep their own president from capitulating to fiscal folly.

Paul Krugman: Medicaid on the Ballot

There’s a lot we don’t know about what Mitt Romney would do if he won. He refuses to say which tax loopholes he would close to make up for $5 trillion in tax cuts; his economic “plan” is an empty shell.

But one thing is clear: If he wins, Medicaid – which now covers more than 50 million Americans, and which President Obama would expand further as part of his health reform – will face savage cuts. Estimates suggest that a Romney victory would deny health insurance to about 45 million people who would have coverage if he lost, with two-thirds of that difference due to the assault on Medicaid.

So this election is, to an important degree, really about Medicaid. And this, in turn, means that you need to know something more about the program.

Juan Cole: Candidates Flee East Coast as Frankenstorm Takes Revenge for their Ignoring Climate Change

Mitt Romney and Joe Biden have canceled campaign events planned for this weekend at Virginia Beach as a massive storm bears down on the east coast of the US. The candidates are fleeing from the East Coast, even though they won’t talk about the key environmental issue of our time.

The candidates in this year’s presidential election completely ignored climate change in their debates and their campaigning, even thought it is the most deadly issue facing this country and all humankind. Human beings are dumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning coal, natural gas and petroleum at feverish rates. They have already increased temperatures significantly since 1750, and are on track to put up the average surface temperature of the earth by 5 degrees C. or 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century, enough to turn everyplace on earth over time into a sweating tropics, melt all surface ice, and, over the long term, submerge a third of the current land mass. A global state of emergency would be necessary to keep the temperature increase to 2 degrees C. or less, but the window is rapidly closing for this curbing of disaster.

Tony Norman: [And Now, a Word from Mr. Mourdock’s God And Now, a Word from Mr. Mourdock’s God]

God’s metaphorical ears must be burning these days. On Tuesday night Richard Mourdock, a Republican Senate candidate from Indiana, did something that would have given pause to even the medieval scholastics who speculated about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

With less than two weeks left in a contentious and hotly contested election, Mr. Mourdock speculated about what God’s will would be if a woman became pregnant as the result of rape. [..]

Over the years, we’ve heard about a deity who countenances the invasion of Muslim countries and the forced conversion of its leaders from the likes of “believers” like Ann Coulter. We’ve heard about the god who hates abortion but loves capital punishment. We hear that he even gives absolution to the killers of abortion doctors even though they’re effectively murdering full-grown fetuses.

Michelle Chen: World Bank’s Anti-Labor Index Is a Dirty Business

It’s a 2012 campaign mantra: On Day One, the new president will reboot the economy by spurring businesses to grow and thrive. Both mainstream candidates have vowed to achieve this, in part by eliminating onerous regulations to “unleash” the long-suppressed power of American industry.

The story is surprisingly similar across the pond. The financial giants of Europe’s troika pummel Greece and other struggling Eurozone countries with a blitzkrieg of kamikaze deregulation, conditioning financial “rescue” on giving markets free rein to work their magic, unencumbered by law. The flipside of this celebration of the Invisible Hand is, inevitably, a merciless beatdown on labor, stripping protections like unemployment aid and wage standards.

The World Bank has taken the extremely dubious science of deregulation one step further by creating a guide, known as the Doing Business report, that quantifies the regulatory “burden” that investors may face in various countries. The 2013 report was released this week.

On This Day In History October 29

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 29 is the 302nd day of the year (303rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 63 days remaining until the end of the year.


On this day in 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” makes its debut in Prague at the Estates Theater. It is an opera in two acts with the music by Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is about a “young, arrogant, sexually prolific nobleman who abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast, until he encounters something he cannot kill, beat up, dodge, or outwit.” The opera is sometimes characterized as comic because it combines comedy, drama and the supernatural. It is among the top 20 operas performed in North America.

Live Stream of Hurricane Sandy

Eating Your Bootstraps

Advantages of a $1000 Pair of Shoes

MCanavan6, Styleforum.net.

8/20/12 at 3:41pm

After getting bitten by the bug I have decided to began upgrading my wardrobe and one of my biggest problems is dress shoes. After deciding I would rather pay a bit more to upgrade from AE to Aldens, Churchs, Crockett & Jones, etc (~$500-$600) I have been wondering if it would be worth it to go all the way and purchase EG, JL, or Vass for my first couple pairs. Right now I am looking for a pair of black captoes and probably brown captoes with quarter broguing. What are the additional benefits of paying over $1000 a pair for EG, JL, or Vass (hopefully I can get some sort of deal) over a $500-$600 pair like Aldens, Churchs, or C&J? Obviously the leather is better quality and stitching/construction is better but in the end will I notice that large of a difference or should I save that $1000 ($500/pair) and spend it on something else? Any advice is appreciated.

post #3 of 415

by Gdot – 8/20/12 at 4:14pm

You will not know for yourself until you can handle the shoes in person. There is a difference. Although once you get past the Northampton benchgrade shoes C&J, Churches, etc. etc. you will find the differences become increasingly subtle and increasling more about design, leather quality and refinement than about the durability/substance of construction.

If you do decide to start at the top and work your way down look for one pair of super classic plain captoes in one of the upper end brands EG,G&G, JL. Then you will have a pair of something super swell for important events.

Then buy a second pair in something more upper/mid price range such as Vass, or AS exclusive. (Nobody beats Vass at this price point in terms of quality from what I understand.)

Then buy a third pair from C&J or Carmina.

This will take you through all the major categories/prices from about $500 up to $1200 or so.

Of course you could also start at the bottom and work up.

Storm Surge

It’s really impossibly vain of me to suppose anyone cares, but there is a chance that underwater squirrels will attack my inter-tubz and disrupt the series of trucks that dump these ephemeral photons on your word TV thing.

If you happen to notice any gaps or interruptions in the next few days or even failures of insight and inspiration I blame Global Warming.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

2012 World Series- Giants at Tigers, Game 4

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan.

I know things.

For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… which makes it like sex.

There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Making love is like hitting a baseball: you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I’d never sleep with a player hitting under .250… not unless he had a lot of RBIs and was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there’s a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds.

Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone, I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. ‘Course, a guy’ll listen to anything if he thinks it’s foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. ‘Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games.

Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball – now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake? It’s a long season and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.

Well, about the only good news for Tigers fans is that tonight Scherzer (6 – 7, 3.74 ERA) is starting against Cain (16 – 5, 2.79 ERA) and if there has been a pitcher most consistently under rated this post season, it’s Scherzer and one consistently most over rated it’s Cain.

That said this looks like the last game of the year.

As always my feelings are mixed, I suppose if I were really a huge fan I’d have watched every single pitch of every single game.

At least the ones the Mets played.  At least the repeats of games I already knew were victories.  At least the ‘Fast Forward’ versions that skip the boring parts.  At least I could have slept through them.

Instead I’m a poor fanatic, easily distracted and influenced by outside events, hardly able to focus even at this late hour on the passing of moments that never come back and mourning them at the same time they’re squandered.

Of course I think that way all the time about everything, for instance the rice and bean burrito I just ate for dinner (I could have had anything), and at its best, when it captures my attention, it can make me forget about futility and the second law of thermodynamics for a time.

The wonderful thing about rice and bean burritos is they taste good and take exactly 45 seconds to make if you happen to have the rice and beans prepared and if not you’re only 25 unsupervised minutes away in any case.

You can use that time to head out to the store and buy your burritos and be hyper efficient.

For the Giants it’s a chance to close out and put a cap on a 2nd magical season in 3 years.  For the Senior League it extends their dominance and illustrates the inferiority of Junior almost but not quite Baseball.

For the Tigers it’s Scherzer and Cain and pray for rain since if they extend tonight it’s highly likely that we face 2 days of postponement for underwater Squirrels and that for sure will bring Verlander back into the picture and I refuse to believe that he’s as bad as his Game 1 start.

But above all I hope for bright and shiny objects.

This game played on Faux.

Barofsky on Wall St’s “Incestuous Orgy”: Part 2

The the second half a web exclusive interview, Neil Barofsky, the former Special Inspector General for the U.S. Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), talks with Bill Moyers. They discuss, what Mr. Moyes described as the “incestuous orgy” that is going on between the banks and the federal government, the need to tackle banking reform and the real possibility of another financial collapse.

The first part of the interview is here

The transcript is here.