But dreams die hard. Sandy Weill's vision of superbanking stardom has gone the way of the American Dream-out of sight and out of reach. In May of 2008, worried over the rapid tanking of his Citigroup stock he told Rose, "I'm scared." Mr. Weill, as we look at the rubble of our banking system caused by banks using federally insured depositor money to gamble on risky toxic investments, so are we.
As taxpayers injected $45 billion dollars of emergency cash in exchange for 36% of common Citigroup stock that even Weill no longer wants, the American public belief in the financial supermarket model has vanished. It has gone the way of the Titanic. Looks great in the Harbor, but sinks when it sails the seas.
In 2006, Weill announced he was leaving finance for good to honor his "deal with God." He pledged $1.4bn dollars to philanthropic works like medical research. As Citigroup stock hovers around $1.39 a share, from a high of $55, Weill must be deeply regretting that pledge now.
This economic crisis has unequivocally proven that Sandy Weill and Robert Rubin do indeed have the "deal with God." It is the same deal every other money manager of a banking institution has, and it does not involve giving millions to plaster your name on the walls of great institutions.
Banking officers hold a sacred trust over other people's money. They are charged with using borrowed funds for careful investments for shareholders, depositors and ultimately taxpayers. A manager of billions of federally insured dollars has in his or her hands the grave financial and moral responsibility to manage these funds with the understanding they do not belong to you. They ultimately belong to the American people. Your "deal with God" is to honor that solemn trust and not "take them dives for the short-end money," as Terry Malloy would say.
Only it must be a "government" that is trustworthy, not quasi-bankers whose self-interests are allowed to endanger national interest.