Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit resigned today after reportedly clashing with his board. Pandit was brought in to stabilize the bank in 2007 as the banking giant became mired in financial problems. Citi survived thanks to a federal bailout, but it continues to struggle with asset quality and earnings problems. The stock, which closed today at $37.16, has lost 90% of its value during the past five years.
Paul Vigna and Colin Barr of The Wall Street Journal discuss the management change and its implications for the company’s shareholders and customers.
Fox Business – As if investing in a post-financial-collapse world isn’t hard enough, consider the latest worry the markets will have to deal with in the coming weeks: The outcome of the presidential election.
This year’s contest, like most others, hinges on the economy — or to be more precise, how to make it grow faster than it has grown over the past four years. Both President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, offer differing visions to meet that goal, and both visions offer opportunities for investors.
Larry McDonald, the senior policy strategist for the investment firm NewEdge, came up with three portfolios for investors to look at depending on who wins the election. (McDonald will appear live on the FOX Business network Monday at 1:20 p.m. ET.)
First, a couple of caveats: These are not recommendations to buy particular stocks, since investing in specific companies requires more precise research. Nor do they take into account every political scenario such as a complete change in the current makeup of the House of Representatives, the Senate or both. And the portfolios assume no substantive change in Federal Reserve interest-rate policy at least for the next year.
Engadget – The most striking takeaway from a recent meeting I had with Xbox Music GM Jerry Johnson wasn’t the Spotify-like service he was in New York City to show off, but rather what he said about a much larger internal change at Microsoft. Having been relegated to the world of video games for the past decade, Microsoft is opening up its Xbox branding to a larger world of media. “‘Xbox’ is actually going from thinking about gaming in a device to being the entertainment face for all of Microsoft,” Johnson said — a major change from the Xbox name’s place as a stand-in for “the Halo and Gears of War box,” trotted out once or twice annually by lower level execs from the Washington-based software giant. “That’s what the company — all the way up to Steve Ballmer — have gotten behind. That’s why you’re gonna see movies on Windows 8 slates, you’re gonna see music, and it’s gonna be branded as ‘Xbox.’,” he explained. This naming convention carries to Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 RT as well — all post-Windows 7 Microsoft devices (and Xbox 360) will refer to music and video libraries as “Xbox Music” and “Xbox Video,” respectively.
But to many, that shift could be confusing. Isn’t “Xbox” that thing in the living room? When “Xbox Music” shows up on Windows 8 devices later this month, will your average user understand that, no, they don’t have to own an Xbox to listen to the music therein? Johnson’s not worried about that potential reality. “The brand has continued to evolve,” he argued. “I don’t think it’s left anything behind, I think it’s broadened the number of people who engage in these type of experiences. And Microsoft as a company I think recognizes that, and it’s more about Xbox meaning ‘entertainment.’”
The Corrupting Influence of Federal Housing Policy
American Thinker – The U.S. government recently filed suit against Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, for failing to check or otherwise misrepresenting the creditworthiness of borrowers to whom the bank issued mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority.
Manhattan’s U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, alleges a “long-standing practice of reckless underwriting and fraudulent loan certification for thousands of FHA-insured loans that ultimately defaulted.” … The government alleges Wells Fargo took shortcuts on thousands of mortgages from May 2001 through October 2005 and illegally foisted them upon the FHA. It also alleges the bank failed to report more than 6,000 loans that went bad between 2002 and 2010 — which may be one reason why it took so long to file this lawsuit.
The collapse of the housing market caused taxpayers to fork over billions of dollars to bail out private companies holding, purchasing, and selling bad mortgages and investments, debt, and insurance based on those bad mortgages. If these allegations against Wells Fargo are true, the bank’s fraudulent behavior represents another example of a private, housing-related company making profits at the taxpayers’ expense.