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FIRST ACCESS to Nadeem Walayat’s Analysis and Trend Forecasts

How Citigroup Incompetence Squanders U.S. Taxpayers Money

Politics / Credit Crisis Bailouts Mar 22, 2009 - 02:53 PM GMT

By: Mike_Shedlock

Politics Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleInquiring minds are reading Banks Selling Properties in Bulk for Cheap .
Mar. 19--Lenders have become so overwhelmed by the foreclosure crisis that they are starting to unload properties in bulk to investor groups at steep discounts. Investors then flip the properties for a profit without necessarily improving the home.


For example, a unit of Citigroup, the troubled financial giant, sold a foreclosure in Temecula to an Arizona investment firm for $139,000 when comparable homes in the area were selling for $240,000 to $260,000.

The firm listed the home for $249,000, received multiple offers and the property has entered escrow, said Amber Schlieder, the real estate agent who handled the listing.

The Temecula foreclosure was first listed for sale by Citigroup in May 2007 for $420,000, according to Multi-Regional Multiple Listing Service, a real estate posting site used by real estate agents.

The property was listed on the site for 19 months before selling to the investors in a bulk sale in December 2008. The lowest price it was listed for was $314,000.

"It should have been listed for less," said Craig Finlayson, a real estate agent in the area who listed the property for Citigroup. "But it would have sold for more than 139 (thousand); 139 was a giveaway price."

CR Capital was the firm that flipped the Temecula foreclosure property, an investment group based in Tucson, Ariz. Calls to CR Capital were not immediately returned.

Incompetence In Pricing

The house never sold because Citigroup had it priced way above market. That is incompetence, lack of concern, an overworked unit or a combination of the above. I vote for the latter.

In Banks Leaving Money on the Table "All Day Long" Calculated Risk said " Citi just left $100,000 on the table. I hear stories like this all the time. "

Debt Guarantees

Debt guarantees are another piece of the puzzle. Flashback February 4, 2009 Triage For Troubled Assets .

In November, the government agreed to limit Citigroup's losses on a portfolio of $301 billion of troubled assets. Last month, the government issued a similar guarantee to Bank of America covering $118 billion in troubled assets. In both cases, the companies agreed to absorb an initial increment of losses -- about $30 billion for Citigroup and $10 billion for Bank of America -- with the government absorbing 90 percent of any subsequent losses.

When taxpayers are guaranteeing 90% of the losses above $30 billion, a figure that was no doubt reached months ago, there is only a 10% incentive to do a job well.

Clearly this opens the door for allegations of graft, corruption, kickbacks, and sweetheart deals. Did any of that take place with this firesale of assets? Who knows?

What we do know is that Geithner worked out a sweetheart deal with the banks, and that deal gives the banks every incentive to get this stuff behind them, regardless of cost to taxpayers.

Pandit's Compensation

Think Progress is asking Did Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit lie to Congress about his compensation?

As ThinkProgress noted, in February, bailed-out Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit told a House committee that he received only $1 million in salary and “no bonus” in 2008:

" PANDIT: My compensation was for the year 2008 was my salary, which was a million dollars. I received no bonus. And as I stated earlier, I plan to take a dollar per year salary and no bonus until we return to profitability. "

Pandit Receives $10.8 Million

The Huffington Post is reporting Pandit Told Congress Compensation Was $1 Million, But Bank Filing Shows $10.8 Million .

Citigroup Chief Executive Vikram Pandit received nearly $11 million of compensation in 2008.

A month earlier, he testified to Congress that his compensation for 2008 was just $1 million. "My compensation for the year 2008 was my salary, which was $1 million," he told the House Committee on Financial Services on February 11, failing to mention his sign-on and retention awards, as well as stock and option awards.

At the same hearing, Pandit pledged to accept a salary of just $1 a year and no bonus until Citibank once again posted a profit.

The $10.82 million in total compensation for 2008 consisted of $7.73 million in sign-on and retention awards, a $958,333 salary, $9.84 million of stock and option awards and $16,193 of other compensation.

Citigroup Reports Profit

Flashback Tuesday, March 10, 2009: Another Bear Market Rally or Something More?

In a letter sent to employees Monday, Citi Chief Executive Vikram Pandit said the first-quarter performance so far has been the bank's best since the third quarter of 2007 -- the last time it recorded net income for a full period. Based on historical revenue and expense rates, Citi's projected earnings before taxes and one-time charges would be about $8.3 billion for the full quarter.

Pandit declined to say how large credit losses and other one-time items have been that would at least partially offset profit.

What Really Happened?

Citigroup reported a profit. Hallejuah! Pandit can start receiving a salary and bonus. Of course Pandit is playing with semantics. An "operating profit" is not the same as a profit.

This is what I said at the time:

So Citigroup has a profit, excluding what?

Who knows? Pandit did not say.

In other news, I am announcing I have $10 billion in my bank account except for the portion of the $10 billion I do not have.

Is dumping assets at fire sale prices at enormous taxpayer expense helping Pandit get his bonus restored? Is there any integrity at a high level anywhere? If there is, how could we possibly know or believe it?

What We Know

Pandit was not truthful to Congress.
Geithner is the architect of this madness.
Obama supports Geithner.
Taxpayers are getting screwed.
Greed at the top is still insatiable.
Geithner is incompetent.

By Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Mike Shedlock / Mish is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management . Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.

Visit Sitka Pacific's Account Management Page to learn more about wealth management and capital preservation strategies of Sitka Pacific.

I do weekly podcasts every Thursday on HoweStreet and a brief 7 minute segment on Saturday on CKNW AM 980 in Vancouver.

When not writing about stocks or the economy I spends a great deal of time on photography and in the garden. I have over 80 magazine and book cover credits. Some of my Wisconsin and gardening images can be seen at MichaelShedlock.com .

© 2009 Mike Shedlock, All Rights Reserved

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