Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Citi Never Sleeps, Part 2...
Poor Citibank. Beseiged by the federal government, shareholders seeking their lost wealth and bombers in Argentina. I would sit here, biting my nails in fright, if I wasn't so damn happy about not working there anymore.

Last month, two Citibank branc offices in Buenos Aires were bombed, one successfully, on not. Today, another possible explosive device was found in another Argentine Citi branch. It seems Citi has done something that makes people angry.

If i had to guess, it probably goes back to 2000 or 2001 (memory fails here) when Citibank announced that Argentina was going to default on 800 or 900 million dollars worth of loans extended by Citi. Mind you, this was back in the day when brokerage houses and banks had more money than good sense, and lending money to a South American country not thatfar removed from almost-Nazi-like rule via military junta must have sounded like a good idea. Then again, Citi pumped a billion dollars into Russia, as well. Then again, Citi fronted Enron and Global Crossing and probably another hundred scams we've never heard of.

Normally, I would consider that the bombers themselves were totally to blame, being unprincipled psychopaths without the sense to pour piss out of a boot, with instructions on the heel. But in this case, when a business starts having explosives delivered, you have to start thinking about just why.

Pure speculation on my part, but I would startthinking about the Argentine government or ex-government types being involved, although I have no proof. They certainly have a panopoly of reasons for doing so. On the other hand, there is an incredible anti-Globalization movement in existance all across the planet, most of it based on socialist-style victimization rhetoric, and lord knows, South Americans respond to that kind of thing. So who knows?

I do happen to know that Citi has other problems that management doesn't even know about, and I would bet, even care about. Talking with some of the people I used to work with, it seems as if they have been scattered ott he four winds, with staff being relocated all over the country. Some go willingly, more often than not, most don't. From what I get from my sources, Citi is not only bestet from without, it's beset from within. It's not a stretch to begin thinking of an employee in Atlanta, or New York, or Los Angeles, bringing the next explosive device to a Citi office. I don;t advocate it, but damn, if it wouldn't be poetic justice.

Justice because what used to be an honorable trademark business in the United States has been pulled down by small-minded individuals who inhabit corner offices, and who cannot see beyond their own wallets. These ignoramuses flot the rules, they steal, they lie and they cheat, and at the end of the day, the protect each other and expect the shareholders to eat the losses just to stay in business. Normally, I am a staunch supporter of free markets and unfettered capitalism, at least until I see what happens when irresponsible people are at the helm. Citi (and it's not the only corporation in this boat) is just too large, to complex and, ultimately, too institutionally corrupt to continue as is. It was once a bank, and now it's a bank, brokerage house, insurance company, credit card company, mortgage broker, and probably 70 other things I don't know about.

Perhaps it's time someone took them down a notch or two. I don't think it should be done by the government or even by terrorists. It should be done by the people who really matter -- the customers and the shareholders. They can always take their business elsewhere and, believe me, that hurts more than any bomb or Federal indictment.

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