We're getting mixed messages about Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit. On the one hand, a government-ordered report from an independent consulting firm has given the Vikster high marks in a performance review, the results of which were released yesterday. On the other hand, he comes across as a bumbling fool and an actual laughingstock in Too Big to Fail, the latest book about the financial crisis that happened like five minutes ago.
Witness this exchange, which appeared in the Vanity Fair excerpt of the book this week, between then–New York Fed president Tim Geithner and Pandit, over a government-proposed merger between Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Pandit was under the impression Citi was meant to acquire Goldman Sachs, instead of the other way around. Geithner did not disabuse him of that notion.
Pandit explained that he had been talking to his team about the Goldman proposal, which they had ultimately rejected. “We’re concerned about taking on Goldman,” Pandit said, trying to explain his rationale for turning them down. “I don’t need another trillion dollars on my balance sheet.”
Geithner could only laugh to himself — Pandit should have been so lucky as to own Goldman.“This is a bank,” Pandit said. “And a bank takes deposits and a bank has a prudency culture. I cannot envision a bank taking its deposits and investing them all in hedge funds. I know that’s not what Goldman is, but the perception is that they’d be taking deposits and putting them to work against a proprietary trade. That can’t be right philosophically!”
HAHAHA RIGHT? We're glad Geithner got a chance to share the humor he got out of this situation with Sorkin and the world, finally. Imagine a bank chief actually considering the ethical and moral implications of a deal? WHAT A MORON.
Ugh. Poor Pandit. He's not an idiot. He's just a victim of Wall Street's Mean Girls.