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Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit: Today ‘Fundamentally Different’ from 2008

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Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit said leverage brought on the crisis of 2008, while living with the consequences of a period of over-leveraging characterizes the market today, which he says is a fundamental difference between the two.

Speaking at the SIFMA Annual Meeting on Monday, Pandit also said “market confidence moves a lot faster than policy makers. Confidence is a big part of what it takes to deal with crises, and we’re got to figure that out even better. We’re living through [that] today again in Europe … We have to make sure that these things are more synchronized. That’s a real danger. It’s a real issue for policy makers to deal with on an ongoing basis.”

According to Bloomberg Television, when asked about the lessons Citigroup has learned from the financial crisis, he said the lessons are simple:

“We understand very well that banking had to go back to its root mission, which is to serve our clients. Banking has to be a means to an end, not an end in itself. For us, the strategic restructuring was straightforward. We went back to the basics of banking.”

He then mentioned action taken by the company to begin to sell 40% of the assets of Citi, which he says is happening “very steadily.”

“These 40% were not about only assets that we wish we didn’t have on our books, but it was about businesses like Primerica, Smith Barney-great businesses, but really not core to the mission we were on,” he said. “For a period of time, it felt like being a supermarket of financial services businesses was the right strategy. As I looked at it, which every CEO should do when they first come into the job, and I looked at where the world was going, where regulation was going and what we were really good at became pretty clear.”

“We’re a bank, not a supermarket,” he said.


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