The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
There's the galling hubris of CEO Brian Moynihan , stating that the public is too quick to criticize such an altruistic bank. There's the panicked race to recapitalize, including $5 billion from Warren Buffett and the sale of a roughly $10 billion stake in China construction bank. There was an infuriating plan to gouge BofA customers $5 a month for a debit card, which has since been replaced by a less obtrusive campaign to nickel-and-dime them to death.
Throw in the -55% performance of BAC stock year-to-date, and a -90% flop from the pre-recession peak, and you've got lots of reasons to hate Bank of America. However, lost in the noise may be the fact that BofA isn't alone in its antics. There are just as many reasons -- perhaps even more -- to dislike Citigroup (C).
Still Too Big to FailThe financial giant was the biggest recipient of government largess amid the TARP bailouts, with the federal government owning a 36% stake at the worst stage of the downturn. Some $25 billion in emergency aid was converted into common shares, which have since been sold as Uncle Sam has exited the "investment" in Citi stock. That alone should make folks just as leery of Citigroup as Bank of America when it comes to "too big to fail" institutions that seem to profit while average Americans suffer. The irony is that Citi may now be even bigger than before, meaning it has only a better chance of needing a government handout in the event of another shock. According to The Banker magazine, data from the end of 2010 shows Citi as the fourth-largest bank in the world. The consolidation in the financial industry has made Citigroup even more entrenched than before.
Still Adding to LayoffsMammoth size doesn't stop Citi from squeezing out more profits. Most recently, news reports say it will cut more than 3,000 workers. That's a fraction of the 30,000 layoffs Bank of America is working out, but let's not forget a brutal slash-and-burn at Citigroup in late 2008 that resulted in some 50,000 pink slips and planned eliminations.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
24/7 market commentary from Jim Cramer and 20+ veteran Wall Street gurus. Get access to the latest trading ideas on stocks, options, and ETFs as well as a real-time forum to see the pros exchanging their investment ideas.
- Jim Cramer + 20 Wall Street pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Real-time trading forum
- Actionable trade ideas
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV