For a long time, Citigroup was like one of those morbidly obese people you read about in the news, the kind of people who have become so fat they can't even do anything for themselves, like leave the house or even get up off their own couch to go the bathroom. Even after receiving the TARP money in 2008, Citi just sat there for months, obese and unhealthy, sinking into the cushions, its skin slowly grafting onto the fabric, while we all wondered if the government was going to have to hire a crane or something to forcibly move it. But lately, today's Times tells us, Citigroup has begun to stir from its stupor.
It started with a simple rotating of its own limbs. It has stopped eating crap, or at least is only eating it in moderation. And it has started to lose some of the weight that caused it to look so freakishly disfigured, like its complicated insurance and retail brokerage units and the risky trading operations. Now, its balance sheet is down by $500 billion to $1.86 trillion. Relatively speaking, this is not a lot. Citigroup is still enormous and hideous and nowhere near resembling a normal bank, but the deathly pallor from years of shoveling in collateralized debt obligations is gone. It can move about the house. And it is feeling a lot better, as the behavior of CEO Vikram Pandit indicates:
Some of Mr. Pandit’s most trusted advisers notice a new bounce in his step and say he is more energetic at meetings.
“Vikram is looking and sounding a lot more confident and secure,” said one top lieutenant. “He has a smile on his face. He sees the day when he is going to earn more than a $1 a year.”
When you're that bloated, you see, it's just the little things that keep you going. Eyes on the prize, Viks!