There are lots of stories in banking I could talk about this morning.
There's the Citigroup story of selling their brokerage division to Morgan Stanley. This is the brokerage Smith Barney that is today's remnants of the firm Salomon Brothers, famed for Liar's Poker stories. It also represents more of the break-up of Citi as a Group, as previously forecast.
This is also a day after Citi's Senior Counsellor, Robert (Bob) Rubin, resigned. Mr. Rubin served as a Treasury Secretary for two terms under Bill Clinton after 26 years at Goldman Sachs, and joined the Board of Citi in 1999. He briefly became Chairman from November to December 2007, before handing over the mantle to Sir Win Bischoff.
In his resignation letter to CEO Vikram Pandit, Mr. Rubin states: "The last 18 months have been very difficult throughout the financial
system, and this has had serious consequences for the employees and
stockholders of Citi and affected the people of our country and in
countries around the globe. My great regret is that I and so many of us
who have been involved in this industry for so long did not recognize
the serious possibility of the extreme circumstances that the financial
system faces today."
Bob will now pursue more philanthropic ventures as will former President and CEO of Merill Lynch, Greg Fleming, who resigned from the firm on Thursday to become a Senior Research Scholar and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Yale. Greg joined Merrill's in 1992 and built up the investment banking business to the formeridable force it was today.
According to an internal memo from current head of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, Greg said that: "As difficult as this decision is, I simply felt that this was the right
time for me to look toward a different set of challenges."
I guess some folks would call it escaping, but who am I to judge?
Meantime, the story that cheered or saddened me the most was the announcement of a Pound Store closing in Southern England.
The store charged £1 for everything inside.
But then, last month, a shop opened opposite charging 99 pence for the same stuff.
Within a month the Pound Shop lost 70% of their business to the 99p shop and has been forced to close down. The story finishes by saying the Pound Shop may re-open under a new name.
Howsabout the 98 pence shop?
It just goes to show that a penny makes all the difference these days.
Something Mr. Pandit and Mr. Thain will do well to remember.