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How to Think About I-Bank CEOs, Dumb-Money Arabs and Their Sitcom Counterparts

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As keepers and dispensers of business wisdom, people often ask us to explain certain mysterious aspects of the world of finance to them that they cannot explain to themselves. Since we think on a higher plane about this stuff than most, it's generally helpful to use a pop culture analogy to elucidate. Don't think of this as us dumbing down the material for your benefit, but merely-actually, that's exactly what it is. But what I'm saying is, don't feel bad about it. In fact, today's question comes from a dear reader who embraces his own limitations, and asks us to answer his thorny question in a way that any simpleton can understand. "Steve in Stamford" writes, "My favorite memories from childhood involve 'sick days' from school, where I would sit in front of the tube eating Tasti Cakes and watching reruns of 'Beverly Hillbillies,' 'That's My Mama,' 'Flintstones' and the Hulk. The lessons gleaned have informed my investment decisions later in life. Lately, I've been at a loss on Citi -- I don't get it. Any insights to be drawn from TV Land?"
Great question, Steve, and topical, too. On Tuesday, Sameer Al-Ansari, the head of Dubai International Capital said at a private equity conference, “In my view it will take a lot more than that to rescue Citi and other financial institutions.” This was sort of a “no shit” statement that pointed out something every 2-brain celled human being’s been thinking since Meredith Whitney told him/her to back in October but apparently it knocked some sense into the 1-brain cell guys, who still saw some value in C, and the courage to short that shit—resulting in a four percent drop in Citi’s stock price. Then, today, Dubai International said in a statement, “Dubai International Capital has never expressed an opinion on the investment merits or financial condition of Citi.” That’s right, Steve—it was all in your head. Am I saying Citi’s largest shareholder outright lied to you? No, they’re not smart enough for that. What we’re saying is, they have no idea what’s going on. Which brings us to this—Citi, and its ragtag coterie of hangers-on, is the TV equivalent of the seminal sitcom, “Hogan’s Heroes.”
Think about it, Steve: the premise of the show was that the POWs at Stalag 13 were actually active participants, using the camp as a base of operations for sabotage against the Nazis. Their leader was senior ranking POW officer Colonel Hogan. The prisoners were in contact with Allied command, and running the show, aided by the incompetence of camp commandant Colonel Klink and his aide, Sergeant Schultz. Citi is the Third Reich. The failed experiment. Weill would be Hitler but he flew the coop with Eva Braun, and let Pandit do the whole "Third Act in the Bunker" thing. Meredith Whitney is Hogan. Alaweed is Klink. Dubai International is Schultz-- "I zhee nothing." We almost said Pandit is Schultz, but that would be giving him too much credit.
That's really it. Hope this helped, Steve. If you have a question you’d like answered, shoot us an email at tips at dealbreaker dot com, or give us a call at (203) 890-2000. We know what we're talking about.
Dubai International Says It Takes Back Citi Comments [DealBook]