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CitiGroup's Real Situation

Nov 24, 2008

Yesterday, Martin Weiss wrote this about CitiGroup:

Citigroup, the nation’s second largest banking conglomerate, is on the brink of failure.

If it fails, it will be, by far, the largest banking disaster in history, involving $2 trillion in assets. That makes it approximately six times larger than Washington Mutual and three times bigger than Wachovia.

Moreover, the prospect of a failure by Citigroup poses far greater challenges to regulators than a typical large bank. Due to its massive derivatives holdings — side bets on interest rates, currencies, and the probability of defaults by other large corporations — it could be extremely difficult to save Citigroup without serious disruptions, raising serious questions about the global banking system and the world economy.

At mid-year, June 30, 2008, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) reported that Citi’s primary banking unit, Citibank NA, held $37.1 trillion in total notional value derivatives, including $3.6 trillion in credit default swaps, which, in recent months, have proven to be the most dangerous category.

In contrast, Wachovia bank, bought out by JP Morgan Chase in a deal brokered by the regulators, had only $4.4 trillion in derivatives, among which $404 billion were in credit default swaps, or only one-ninth the size of Citigroup’s.

Thus, whereas it was possible for the authorities to arrange buy-outs for banks like Wachovia and Washington Mutual, there is no buyer big enough in the United States to absorb Citigroup. Nor is it likely that an international consortium of banks would want to squander the precious capital they have left on a sinking titanic the size of Citigroup.


NOTE: Citibank holds 37.1 TRILLION dollars in derivatives, including 3.6 trillion in credit default swaps. They have been gambling in a big-stakes poker game, and now it is known that they have LOST the bet. How is the federal government going to prop up Citibank with just $320 billion? No, this bailout will just postpone the inevitable, as they buy time and cross their fingers.

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Category: Financial

Dr. Stephen Jones

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