Alternative Banking Group Accepts Invitation to Meet With Citigroup CEO, Vikram Pandit

Text of the message sent to Vikram Pandit by the Alternative Banking Group, in cooperation with the PR Working Group:

Dear Mr. Pandit,

Last October, in an interview with Fortune Magazine, you extended an invitation to Occupy Wall Street for a face-to-face meeting. The Alternative Banking Group, an official working group of Occupy Wall Street, hereby accepts.

As CEO of Citigroup, you recently announced “a new Citi.” You said that you are now “working hard to create a culture of responsible finance.” Our mission as the Alternative Banking Group is exactly the same. We look forward to a fruitful dialogue.

Since this conversation is of importance to the general public, we will have a small camera crew with us to document it. The video will be shared on the website, an emerging media platform for the Occupy movement.

Please respond to this email at your earliest convenience to schedule a time and place.

Cathy O’Neil
The Alternative Banking Group
Occupy Wall Street

We hope that Pandit will honor his offer. If you have any questions that you would like the Alternative Banking Group to ask on your behalf, please suggest them in the comments section. Thanks!

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  1. makarov

    You should ask him what he thinks the penalty should be for a bank wrongfully foreclosing on a property, per incident.

    Ask if he thinks creating fraudulent documents, in particular post-dated mortgage note assignments, is wrongful.

      1. R Foreman

        I have the original note on Vik’s mansion, right here.. I just have to run it off the printer and I’ll be foreclosing next week (he’s been spotty on his payments).

  2. Jon

    Ask Vikram why he hasn’t turned himself in for violating countless felonious statutes regarding the improper conveyance of promissory notes to mortgage trusts worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

    Then ask him about Citi’s oligopolistic control of the OTC derivatives market.

  3. Publius

    Check this out, disgusting.

    Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and three other banks that settled a nationwide probe of foreclosure practices this month will get a bonus from the deal: protection for $308 billion of home-equity loans they hold.

    The banks that service about half the nation’s mortgages on behalf of investors will be able to share losses on their junior loans with bondholders and get credit toward the cash they pledged to spend in the settlement, said an Obama administration official involved in drafting the $25 billion agreement. Second liens would typically be wiped out before senior-mortgage investors take a loss, said Laurie Goodman, managing director at Amherst Securities Group LP in New York.

    It’s “a gift to the banks, at investors’ expense,” said Goodman, a member of the Fixed Income Analysts Society’s Hall of Fame. “A proportionate write-down of the first and second represents a reversal of normal lien priority.”

  4. C

    Former Citi chairman John Reed gave an interview recently with Bill Moyers. In that interview three points were made.

    Firstly Mr Reed asserted that Wall Street was wrong to overtun Glass-Steengall. He went on to state that the crash of 2008, while it still may have happened, might not have posed a systemic or existential risk had things been compartmentalized.

    Secondly he agrees with a claim put forward by Bill Moyers that the deck was stacked against the interests of the public:

    BILL MOYERS: Well, some people now say the deck was
    stacked, that the game was rigged against the broad
    interest of the public.

    JOHN REED: No, I definitely agree. And, I mean, the
    proof is there. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out
    that we’d been wrong.

    Thirdly, he notes that a major source of pressure to accept and make these bad loans came from investors and the notion of “shareholder value” which pressured leaders of financial institutions to focus more on ever increasing stock values and bonuses rather than prudent investment.

    How would you respond to these three points. Do you think that he is wrong in any way. And if not what are you, as one of the leading members of Wall Street, doing to change it?

    Transcript here:

    1. Mansoor H. Khan

      C said:

      “Firstly Mr Reed asserted that Wall Street was wrong to overtun Glass-Steengall. He went on to state that the crash of 2008, while it still may have happened, might not have posed a systemic or existential risk had things been compartmentalized.”

      Glass-Steagall will not have helped. The banking system cannot go backwards for too long (i.e., fewer net loans) because net loans = currency supply = bank deposits.

      The bankers know exactly what they are doing. The whole point is to continue to lend (regardless of quality) to keep the debt based monetary system going until it collapses then it must be reset.

      More at:

      Mansoor H. Khan

      1. C

        Glass-Steagall will not have helped. The banking system cannot go backwards for too long (i.e., fewer net loans) because net loans = currency supply = bank deposits.

        I disagree the while loans do inject a form of currency into the mix it isn’t an equivalence function.

        But in any event the contention was not that Glass-Steagall would have prevented the crisis but that it would have kept firewall, or ‘bulkheads’ as he put them, in place and thus contained the damage. I agree that the wheels were in many ways off the wagons before it but what it did was remove the brakes.

      2. Susan the other

        But we get the feeling that people like Larry Summers are still trying to play their bluff? And there is a chance they will succeed given the fact that they control governments? Instead of top-downers, we need Bottoms Up! A new call to arms.

  5. C

    As a second question:

    There are two broad schools of thought regarding how markets are policed.

    The deregulation or “invisible hand” approach believes in eliminating regulations and leaving the market to weed out fraudulent investors and criminal players.

    What I call the “regularty scaffolding” approach relies on regulation, particularly criminal laws applied equally, to weed out fraudulent players and thus keep markets honest.

    Firstly, which, if any, school of thought do you ascribe to. Secondly, how would you have applied your views to the crash of 2008 and to construct future markets. Would you, for example urge for more prosecutions or upper-level turnover on Wall Street, or less? Would you support or oppose the existing bailouts?

    With that in mind how would your solutuions have prevented or mitigated the crash?

  6. Greg Taylor

    If he’ll meet, you might start the conversation by establishing common areas of agreement about the honorable role that banking might have in the future. Then, get his perspectives on why banking has lost much of this respect over the last 30 years and what it needs to do to restore it. Then fill in the major holes in his response in a way that shows how bad banking practices have destroyed customer, counter-party and investor trust and why substantial reforms are necessary to restore honor to the profession.

    Don’t be surprised if he sees fraud as a relatively minor issue and have some good stats ready that illustrate the pervasiveness of it throughout the industry.

    Some other bad practices that might be worthy of discussion:

    1. Not aligning banking/servicer incentives with customer and investor incentives. Not retaining a fair share of the credit risk (>25%) on the loans banks originate. Incentives for servicing fraud. Credit Default Swaps allow banks to profit from losses they can create and are invitations for fraud.

    2. Creating opaque products and taking advantage of resulting information asymmetries that produce unnecessary losses for customers. Treating customers as counter-parties.

    3. Securitization / Mortgage Electronic Registry System. One example of poorly aligned incentives and opaque products creating massive harm to society.

    4. Allowing single banks to get so big that they hold the entire world economy hostage if they were allowed to fail. This ensures crony capitalism, bankers getting the upside profits and socializing the losses.

  7. Brett King

    The big question here is – do you want to actually be responsible for changing something on behalf of the so-called 99%, or do you want to make Vikram and CIti admit their crimes against humanity?

    The later would be a waste of time. He’ll never admit that, and it won’t do any good for the tens of thousands of home owners that have lost their homes as a result of the sub-prime led financial crisis. This has to be about how you make things better in the future – not crucifying Pandit IMHO

    1. psychohistorian

      It is not correct to judge the outcome of the questions asked.

      As individuals we are not deciding if perhaps, both change on behalf of the 99% AND making Vikram and CIti admit their crimes against humanity are possible.

      Ask Vikram if we live in class based society and what he thinks about the accumulated inheritance of wealth and property.

  8. nonclassical

    ..ask Pandit what significance Treasury Secretary Paulson’s 2003 SEC deregulation of “leverage” had, in terms of collateral held by Wall $treet “investment banks” in colluding to drive commodities and derivatives futures..?

    1. EH

      Using the word “collusion” is not going to be the best way to ask him a question. Pandit is a pro, and should be treated like one. “Y U RAPE MY MONEY?” is a nonstarter, too.

  9. Woodrow Wilson

    “We hope that Pandit will honor his offer.” –

    Mr. Padit’s answer will go something like this, if he answers at all:

    “How many Occupiers can you fit in one of those clown cars?”

    Now, if Mr. Pandit and the like were hanging from lampposts en masse for crimes against Americans, you might have a more receptive audience.

  10. Chris

    Bringing a camera crew is a smart move. It will prevent Pandit from blatantly attempting to buy off the alternative banking group or threaten them with an IRS audit from his cronies in the treasury department.

    Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

  11. Lil'D

    Seems like more confrontational an “acceptance” than necessary. I’d bet that a handful of OWS-ABG folks sitting with Pandit for a couple of hours without the camera might end up being productive.

    1. JurisV

      I think it’s a brilliant, assertive opening salvo in negotiating the terms of the meeting. It puts Cathy O’Neil’s group in a great position. Vikram has a number of options now and the likely outcome will probably be an a discussion of the terms of the “documentation.” Vikram probably had no idea that a smart, savvy, experienced-in-finance group like The Alternative Banking Group of OWS would be responding to his offer. I’m assuming that all he was thinking of was PR with a naive group from the park. He’s in the “briar patch” with Cathy O’Neil, et al.

      Looking forward to the drama.

  12. Bill C

    @Chris: “Bringing a camera crew is a smart move. It will prevent Pandit from…” ATTENDING (malheureusment)

  13. F. Beard

    If you have any questions that you would like the Alternative Banking Group to ask on your behalf, please suggest them in the comments section.


    1) How do you justify collecting usury from your fellow countrymen contrary to Deuteronomy 23:19-20?

    2) How do you justify stealing purchasing power from the “non-credit worthy”?

    3) How do you justify government privileges for banking such as a lender of last resort, government insurance of deposits and legal tender laws for private debts to name just a few?

    4) How do you justify the US Federal Government borrowing its own money supply when it is monetarily sovereign?

    5) Are you opposed to a universal bailout, including non-debtors, with new fiat?

  14. zeev

    pr coup for citigroup?

    without leadership pccupy is destined to be a victim of its own foolishness.
    revolutions are not democratic in nature. thus, occupy with its stated goal of change by democracy and openess will be assured to change nothing.

    read the ‘ infiltration’ article. the number one tactic is not true. occupy accuses internal contributors of infiltration because theyre stupid and disruptive and no one knows who they are and everyone is given s chance to speak. thats how fools operate. without a hieracrchy of authorized speakers.

    its not that occupy is unique. people are always dumber when in groups. occupy is just a good example of disorganized chimps hollering and screaming about every scratch and itch that irks their group slinging mud and shit in every direction including at one another

    1. F. Beard

      Heat is useful in that it helps the PTB to see the light. We will learn to do capitalism ethically or we risk a worse replacement; what we have is NOT acceptable.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You don’t know what you are talking about. Occupy the SEC (some members are also part of the Alternative Banking Group) got very favorable media reactions to its wonky, 325 page submission on the Volcker Rule. Some of the lead authors were doing media pretty much every day last week and came off very well.

      All you have to offer is uninformed prejudice.

  15. Charles Deihl

    Ask them What’s their Percentage Rate of Wrongful Foreclosers & if they Reached out to Help the ones they wrongfully Evicted ?

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