Sheila Bair Threatens Vikram Pandit


Last month, FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair went on Bloomberg television and indicated that heads would roll at the country’s largest financial institutions. “Do you think some will be replaced in the next couple of months?” she was asked, about CEOs. “Yeah,” she replied, “I think there will be an evaluation process.” Later, the agency tried to smooth the rough edges of her statement with a clarification, saying Bair “did not refer to CEOs specifically” and also “did not suggest the federal government will remove the bank CEOs,”. Uh, okay. Now this morning’s Journal is telling us that Bair is specifically sharpening her talons for Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is pushing for a shake-up of Citigroup Inc.’s top management, imperiling Chief Executive Vikram Pandit, people familiar with the matter said. The FDIC, under Chairman Sheila Bair, also recently pressed a fellow regulator to lower the government’s confidential ranking of Citi’s health—a change that would let regulators control the firm more tightly.

She’s already “reached out” to another guy and everything!

She’s already “reached out” to another guy and everything!

We’re sorry, but this is just wrong. First of all, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Citigroup’s problems are not Vikram Pandit’s fault. And, awkward Zen garden moments aside, he’s done a pretty effective job in the last six months. Citigroup performed well in the stress test, unloaded one of its most profitable units, and has exhibited an almost pathetic willingness to do whatever the government wants. Has the company moved too slow? Maybe, but it’s been six months. Certainly this is not reason enough for a federal coup, especially when there are bigger companies with bigger problems that need tending to.

We’ve defended Bair before when colleagues were sniping about her in the press; we respect a lady who holds her own in a field dominated by dudes, and she was right about the housing crisis, after all. But this (plus the creepy-crawly feelings that this and this give us) indicate that there is something wrong here. Clearly, this woman is mad with power and needs to back the eff off. And let the man do his job. Otherwise, to borrow a phrase from Kimora Lee Simmons, we may have to beat a bitch’s ass.

Wait: Can we get arrested for saying that about a federal employee? Then never mind. We would be really, er, annoyed.

FDIC Pushes Purge at Citi [WSJ]