But Citi has an operating profit so far in 2009 — excluding likely write-downs and loan loss provisions — CEO Vikram Pandit said in an internal memo to staff Monday.
"I am most encouraged with the strength of our business so far in 2009," he wrote. "We are profitable through the first two months of 2009 and are having our best quarter-to-date performance since the third quarter of 2007."
They forgot to add the phrase "sucker" to the internal memo. For the last few weeks markets have been dying to hear good news -- any good news. However, trusting anyone involved with a financial firm is stupid beyond belief.
But Wall Street has learned to distrust claims of financial health. The CEOs of mortgage finance giants Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM) expressed confidence in their firms' viability before they were taken into receivership. Lehman Bros.' CEO gave similar assurances before the investment bank went bankrupt last year.
"One of the questions investors have is transparency. How much information are they telling me and what's the validity of the information," said Kris Niswander, associate director at SNL Financial.
Let's just say I'll believe it when I see it.