Fitch: You Should Just Give Up Already

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Fitch Ratings lowered its outlook on France's triple-A rating to "negative" from "stable," indicating there is a 50-50 chance the nation could lose its top investment-grade rating over the next two years. The move came as Fitch also placed its ratings on six other euro-zone nations, including Spain and Italy, on watch for downgrade after it concluded a "comprehensive solution" the region's debt crisis is "technically and politically beyond reach." [WSJ]

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Fitch Has Something To Say About Fudgie

"Manageable" but "raises questions." Fitch Ratings has downgraded JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s (JPM) Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to 'A+' from 'AA-' and its Short-term IDR to 'F1' from 'F1+'. Fitch has placed all parent and subsidiary long-term ratings on Rating Watch Negative. Fitch has also downgraded JPM's viability rating (VR) to 'a+' from 'aa-' and placed it on Rating Watch Negative. In addition, Fitch affirmed JPM's '1' support rating and 'A' support rating floor. The rating actions follow JPM's disclosure yesterday of a $2 billion trading loss on its synthetic credit positions in its Chief Investment Office (CIO). The positions were intended to hedge JPM's overall credit exposure, particularly during periods of credit stress. Fitch views the size of loss as manageable. That said, the magnitude of the loss and ongoing nature of these positions implies a lack of liquidity. It also raises questions regarding JPM's risk appetite, risk management framework, practices and oversight; all key credit factors. Fitch believes the potential reputational risk and risk governance issues raised at JPM are no longer consistent with an 'AA-' rating. Fitch Cuts JPMorgan Ratings [Reuters]

Meredith Whitney: Citigroup Should Just Give Up

Earlier today, we wondered if, in light of the news that Vikram Pandit had resigned as CEO of Citigroup, analyst Meredith Whitney's opinion of the bank had changed. Choice comments that Whitney has made about the Big C in the past have included: "Citigroup is in such a mess Stephen Hawking couldn’t turn this company around"; "Citi is like an old broken-down Victorian house"; and Citi “has no earnings power, isn’t going to grow, hasn’t been investable in four years." She also once told Maria Bartiromo that the only way she'd change her mind about company would be if she received "a new brain." Still, sometimes analysts change their tune when new blood is brought in and, like former FDIC chair Sheila Bair, perhaps some of her beef with the bank had been a personal dislike of Uncle V. Now that he's gone, is she seeing Citigroup in a new light? Not so much, no. In the wake of CEO Vikram Pandit‘s surprise departure this morning, Whitney, founder and CEO of Meredith Whtney Advisory Group LLC, issued a note cautioning clients to be wary of Citigroup even under new leadership. “Citigroup is ‘the incredible shrinking bank,’ and the least interest of the big four, in our opinion,” Whitney said. “No CEO will be able to change these facts in the near-term. It appears the board feels the same way, as they have appointed an unknown to the outside to the new CEO position, Mike Corbat.” [...] On Tuesday, the stock has wavered between gains and losses on heavy trading volume in reaction to Pandit’s resignation. Shares are up 29% this year through Monday’s close. Despite signs of incremental improvement, Whitney isn’t backing down from her bearish stance. “Any seat in Citigroup’s court should come with a warning label,” Whitney says. Meredith Whitney: No CEO Can Fix Citigroup [WSJ] Earlier: Meredith Whitney Cannot Stress Enough How Little She Thinks Of Citigroup