The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Posts Tagged ‘citi

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly | which is your bank?


In this video commentary on the US Banks results they note that while large profits are announced, any parts of the business related to the US consumer consumer is flat. This includes all retail banking and credit cards. The only bright spots are the fee based revenue from the investment banking units, hence JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs results, although poor old Citi did not even make it there.

One quarter does not make or break anything in banking in and of itself. However the predictions of Roubini and Baker linked below are playing out as expected, so which banks are going to wait it out and hope for the best, and which will challenge and break out?

Citi and BofA fail to allay fears | FT

The problem with Citi it is not firing on any cylinders, at least with the others they are at least firing on one cylinder.

Relevance to Bankwatch:
The word ‘bank’ is quite generalised. On this blog I focus on retail and commercial (small ‘c) banking. I care little about investment banking. Looking at the US this week, the US consumer base is still being hit with ever increasing unemployment, and there is no indication that will change soon. Europe and Japan are no better. I go back to an earlier post about ‘recovery’ which is a word used too loosely by economists and politicians. What will the future look like? What will recovery look like and what does that mean for your bank?

While technical recovery meaning positive GDP growth may occur later this year or earlier next, that is of little interest here. That ‘recovery’ is driven by Government deficit spending in all major economies. What matters is the state of the consumer, their aggregate confidence level, and frankly their income level with which they choose to save, pay down debt or spend.

I will repeat that banks as they move into this post ‘recovery’ world will do well to consider what it will take to succeed in that world. James Baker worried about Zombie banks back in March. We are beginning to see the evolution of zombies, financial utilities who operate under government supervision and ownership with little benefit if any to people or the economy.

If it is not going to look like the pre recession world and if we accept that it will be a relatively smaller, more careful world with far less money velocity, then how should your bank adapt products, services, service and business model to thrive?

Written by Colin Henderson

July 17, 2009 at 15:12

Bank of America Needs $33.9 Billion | NYT


As predicted yesterday, the amount of capital the banks need is far in excess of the amounts they were negotiating.

This news just in from the NYT confirms what had to be the case.  If we do the math based on project bad debts, it had to be in the $20bn + range for the big banks.  Similar results will apply to Wells, Citi,  PNC and others in the group of 19.  Watch out for the stock market tomorrow.  Reality bites.

Bank of America Needs $33.9 Billion, U.S. Determines

The government has determined that Bank of America will need
$33.9 billion in capital, according to an executive at the
bank.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 5, 2009 at 22:32

Where are the bank visionaries when we need them?


As we watch for bank stress test results in the US and other countries efforts to deal with Banks’ asset valuation and capital levels, its useful to keep a track on the economic back drop, and assess the bank’s efforts to address their real problem, which is over-valued assets.

The US stress tests specifically address the impact on banks under certain sets of future assumptions for economic growth and stability.

Spring forecasts 2009-2010 | European commission

The Commission forecasts a sharp contraction of the EU economy by 4% in 2009 (relative to a positive growth of 0.8% in 2008). Almost all EU countries are severely hit by the worsening of the financial crisis, the sharp global downturn and ongoing housing market corrections in some economies. However, with the impact of fiscal and monetary stimulus measures kicking in, growth is expected to regain some momentum in the course of 2010 (annual growth forecast for 2010 stands at -0.1%). Figures are essentially the same for the euro area as for the EU as a whole. These figures represent a significant downward revision compared to the autumn forecast and the interim forecast of January 2009.

spring-forecast-2009-publication15048_en [pdf]

So far the news is not good.  We have US, Japan, and now EU all noting significant downward adjustments to their forecast for 2009.  Magically, they all seem to agree 2010 will be just fine.  2010 aside, the consensus for the big three are 2009 GDP drops in the 4 % – 6+ % range.

Here is an extract of the baseline forecasts used by the Stress tests, contained in their methodology document for SCAP (Supervisory Capital Assessment Progam).

SCAP Economic Assumptions

The short view is that the assumptions for GDP growth in 2009 are approximately 1/3 of the latest forecasts.  Put another way 2009 is going to be 3 times worse than the forecast used in SCAP.   This is only May, so one can only assume that on a probability scale the opportunity for additional downward revisions are as possible as any other prediction at this stage.

The debate amongst BofA, Citi and the government on whether they ought to raise $5Bn in capital is ridiculous, and counterproductive.  As the economic forecasts show, the amounts required are not going to be debated in the $1 Bn range – this needs vision that produces 10’s or 100’s of billion in improvement such that the organisation can leap ahead of the economic crisis and look out 10 years, not 1 month, which seems to me to be the current landscape for banks.

Incidentally, to place $5Bn in perspective, Merrill Lynch paid out $3.6 bn in bonuses at the end of 2008.  Geithner should not even take a phone call from any bank who wishes to discuss anything thats less than $20 bn.  A debate over $5bn is ludicrous.

All this to say, that banks are stuck in a classic rat hole and surrounded.  Which bank and which leader will step up with vision for the future that carries banks on beyond 2011?

Relevance to Bankwatch:

Banks need to take a leaf out of Sergio Marchionne, Fiat chief executive’s book.  He is in Germany this morning proposing a deal that will take advantage of the current climate, and look to take advantage of infrastructure provided by Vauxhall, Chrysler, Opel and Fiat to structure an effective platform around car types that consumers actually want and need, ie smaller, cheaper and more efficient.  Already he is getting positive reaction to his plan, and these meetings only took place today (Monday).

He hopes to complete the transaction by the end of May, and list shares of the new company, tentatively called Fiat/Opel, by the end of the summer.

Mr Marchionne said Fiat and Opel would reap synergies of €1bn a year by merging their small B and midsize C segment car platforms, and absorbing Fiat’s ultra-small A platform and Opel’s upper-middle D platform.

Note the timing – he is going to do this in one month. This new conglomorate will involve hard decisions and layoffs.  This is the hard reality of the adjustment required for the new economy.  Getting through the crisis is not a return to 2007.  It is a fundamental shift to a smaller and different economy.

Where are the bank visionaries now?  Are they becoming so bogged down worrying about beaurocratic discussions with their new government masters and defending bonuses and perks that they have lost sight of the real goal?

Written by Colin Henderson

May 4, 2009 at 09:09

The irony of Citi’s request of a Democratic government


There is a high degree of irony in this story.  We have a bastion of capitalism, Citi requesting a 40% government ownership, accompanied by a Democratic US government stating its belief in private ownership.

The impossible inevitability will meet the inevitable impossibility  …  eventually.

Citi presses officials to take 40% stake | ft.com

Citigroup is pressing the US government to agree on a new capital injection that would increase the authorities’ stake in the troubled bank to about 40 per cent but stop short of an outright nationalisation

They (US Government) apparently believe that the market response to White House and Treasury statements on Friday reaffirming the administration’s commitment to private ownership of financial institutions buys them some time to come up with a way forward.

The Treasury said secretary Tim Geithner would “preserve a financial system that is owned and managed by the private sector”.

Written by Colin Henderson

February 22, 2009 at 22:50

Posted in Uncategorized

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How can a bank with over 2 trillion in assets fail?


econnov20th1The headlines surrounding Citi are reminiscent of a wolf pack circling its prey. But how can a bank such as them fail? And how can it go from making a billion dollar offer to purchase Wachovia to failure?

Citigroup stock drops to 13-year low, fear grow | Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc faced a crisis of confidence on Wednesday as investors questioned the survival prospects of the U.S. banking giant, and its shares tumbled 23 percent to a 13-year low.

The second-largest U.S. bank by assets has been reeling on concerns that mounting losses from credit cards, mortgages and toxic debt could overwhelm its efforts to slash costs and add deposits. Last month, Wells Fargo & Co dealt a blow by derailing Citigroup’s bid to buy Wachovia Corp.

Some facts, and I go back to my earlier posts on bank leverage.

Total Assets: $ 2,050 Bn

Total Liabilities $ 1,924 bn

Equity $ 126 bn

Normal Net income (2006) $21 Bn

Lets do the math here:

debt to equity = 15 :1 – on the high side even for banks. Capital is 6.2% of assets. Basel 2 requires 9% + I believe so they are already on the wrong side of that barometer.

Scenario: if their losses are $50 bn or more then equity is reduced to $76 bn. Ratios become 25 :1 and 3.7%.

In any other industry, this is called bankrupt.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

Unfortunately this calculation could be performed with similar results on too many large banks.  The reality is that the government ownership of certain banks is the only way for them to make it through this crisis and have any opportunity to exist and plan on the other side.  This will also curtail innovation.

Perfect time for financial system alternatives, and I hope the banking regulators see the irony in that, and let it happen.

Written by Colin Henderson

November 21, 2008 at 13:37

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