awkward

The IMF chief, whose words have never and will never rattle markets like those of the Beard, cannot understand why the Fed is unable to deploy information as sagaciously and effectively as her august organization. Read more »


[Reuters, Twitter]

Update: There is it.

Over at the Journal today you will find a story called “Awkward Spot For Citi’s CEO,” which details the various awkwardness encountered by Mike Corbat since he took over as Chief Executive Officer, following Vikram Pandit’s awkward ousting. There is also a delightful bonus round of awkwardness that comes as a postscript to the article, but we’ll get the that later. First, why are things slightly awk for Corbat?

Well, for starters, he knew that Pandit was going to be unexpectedly and unceremoniously fired long before VP did, including the entire time they were on a business trip in Tokyo together. The whole time they were flying over there together, having dinner together, meeting with clients together, taking in shows and doing touristy things when they had downtime from the conference together, he knew Pandit was about to get hit by a truck. No one blames Corbat for Vickles being canned but, at the same time, there is a feeling by a few at Citi that you’d have to be some kind of monster to look a guy in the eye and say “Sure, a trip the the Zen Temples sounds great,” and take in the cherry blossoms and drink sake and do karaoke and fight over who is Scarlett Johansson and who is Bill Murray with him all the while knowing what was going to happen when you got home.

For Vikram Pandit, a trip to Tokyo for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank conference last month seemed routine. But Michael Corbat, the longtime Citigroup executive who joined Mr. Pandit there, knew better. Unbeknown to Mr. Pandit, Citigroup Chairman Mike O’Neill had told Mr. Corbat that the board could seek Mr. Pandit’s resignation as chief executive and hand the job to Mr. Corbat, according to people familiar with the situation. A day after Messrs. Pandit and Corbat returned to New York, that is exactly what happened. A host of financial, competitive and regulatory issues confronts the 52-year-old Mr. Corbat atop the nation’s third-biggest bank by assets. But no task is more critical than soothing workers unsettled by the way the board ousted Mr. Pandit and his longtime right-hand man, John Havens, who ran the investment bank and served as president and chief operating officer. The effort is made even more delicate by Mr. Corbat’s proximity to Mr. Pandit in the days before the coup. Executives say they don’t blame Mr. Corbat for Mr. Pandit’s overthrow, though some wondered how Mr. Corbat was able to sit through the IMF meetings knowing what was to unfold.

Additionally awkward is the fact that there has been chatter around the office and scrawled on the walls of the men’s room that there’s only enough room in this Citi for one guy named Mike, and it’s not Corbat.

Adding to Mr. Corbat’s challenges is the perception among some insiders that he is overshadowed by Mr. O’Neill. Employees have privately joked that of the two Mikes, it is Mr. O’Neill who is truly in charge. People close to Mr. O’Neill dispute that notion and say he has spent little time at his Citigroup office in the past month.

Finally, you have the awkwardness of Mike not only knowing his colleague Vikram was going to be fired, but that his colleague and friend, John Havens, was getting the boot himself, which may or may not have caused auxiliary awkwardness for Corbat on the home front.

Mr. Corbat’s position is all the more awkward given his close personal relationship with Mr. Havens. The two men spent time together outside of work, occasionally vacationing with their wives at Mr. Havens’ Scotland estate.

All good examples of things that could be characterized as awkward to be sure. However, the absolute most wonderful bit of awkwardness to be found in “Awkward Spot For Citi’s CEO,” is, without question, this: Read more »

According to [Crown Prosecution Service's Sasha] Wass, William Steward, an accountant in the UBS back office, “must have felt that he had been hit by a steam roller” after he received an email from Adoboli on Sept. 14 last year revealing his actions. She said Steward had three conversations that morning with Mr. Adoboli about the trades, and wanted to know who the counterparties were. In the email, Mr. Adoboli wrote: “First of all, the ETF trades that you see on the ledger are not trades that I have done with a counterparty as I have previously described…I used the bookings as a way to suppress the PnL losses that I have accrued through off book trades that I made”. [WSJ]

The master of ceremonies made a mistake as he named John Thain one of the year’s finest dads, introducing him as the chief executive officer of Citigroup. “Vikram Pandit will be very unhappy,” Thain said, accepting an award from Father’s Day/Mother’s Day Council Inc. on June 14. “I’m actually the CEO of CIT, which is similar, but not quite the same.”…host Mark Shriver apologized for bungling his introduction of Thain, 57, a former Goldman Sachs president who has been CEO of CIT Group Inc. since February 2010. “I thought it was a misspelling,” said Shriver, senior vice president of nonprofit Save the Children. “It said CIT — I’m like, this has got to be Citi.” [Bloomberg, related]

  • 06 Jun 2012 at 1:55 PM

How Your CNBC Sausage Gets Made (Update)

Step 1: Come up with story idea, say, about how small businesses are being hurt due to the NBA lockout.
Step 2: Reach out to Twitter followers, ask them to corroborate said story.
Step 3: Wait.
Step 4: Practice asking Kate Upton to be your Valentine. ["Will you, Kaaa" voice cracks. "Will you, Kate Upton..." No, that's stupid. "Kate I would be most honored if you.."]
Step 5: Daydream about how you and “Katie” will tell your families you eloped.
Step 6: Marvel at your good fortune when a guy, who in real life is a bored teenager but over the internet seems like a legit businessman, emails you to say that he runs an escort service in New York, “mostly for away team players after games but some Knicks and Nets too; they are high rollers and I’m not getting the constant business I that I need to stay running.”
Step 7: Double fist pump the air and shout “Yes, D-Rove, you got this! Pulitzer 2012 baby!”
Step 8: Breathe, tell yourself to calm down and reel it in. Read more »

How people smile when they're plotting cutting your brake lines.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Zoe Cruz would be closing her hedge fund, Voras Capital Management. Cruz started the fund in 2010, a few years after she was famously fired by John Mack at Morgan Stanley (where she was co-President), for reasons that remain unclear to this day but include theories like: a) the belief that she was responsible for losing the firm a few billion dollars b) a lot of people disliked her– including this guy named Vikram Pandit who was “not a fan“– and told Mack they would leave if he made Cruz CEO c) Mack had to blame either himself or Cruz for some losses and he chose her. d) She was, you know, a girl, and the boys didn’t like that. Regardless, the ousting was probably mildly to majorly humiliating for ZC and since Mack– who she was extremely close with prior to the personnel change– was the one who told her to hit the bricks, it would have been fair to assume she spent a least a little time fantasizing about  sticking pins in a Mack voodoo doll and/or slashing his tires.

In 2009, though, Mack and Zoe had lunch and she told him she wanted to start a hedge fund. And maybe it was it was the fact that he was feeling nostalgic, maybe it was the fact that tragedy + time = comedy, maybe it was the fact that he was still riding high from “saving” Morgan Stanley, maybe it was the wine, maybe it was that he was feeling bad about the unceremonious canning and thought “Oh, why not just give the poor girl some money” but Mack went back to the office and “told bank executives that he would like to help her start her new investment business, according to people familiar with the matter.” And when they said, “But John, didn’t you fire her for supposedly taking on too much risk and losing the firm $4 billion,” he said “[Well], her track record was a very good track record.” So Morgan Stanley gave Cruz $20 million and she was on her way. And while we can’t say for sure, and we’re not suggesting money necessarily heals all wounds, the $20 million and the stamp of approval and the fact that she could say to investors she was trying to raise money from ,”Hey look, even the guy who fired me wants in” probably helped smooth things over and improve MS’s standing in the Cruz-missile’s eyes. She likely even had nice things to say about her former employer at social gatherings! And then this happened: Read more »