NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup ( C) shareholders have spoken. They want the government to sell its 27% stake and go away,

That's the only plausible explanation of the 7.3% spike in Citi shares yesterday after Fox Business Network reported that the government is considering the sale of its stake in Citi as early as this spring.

As I've mentioned in previous columns, the government is in the money, so there's no reason to hold onto the shares any more unless there is some fear that Citi remains unstable. So if the government doesn't want to send that signal to the market, then it needs to show its confidence by starting to unwind its stake.

The government's investments in private enterprise were intended to serve only one purpose - to help shore up the financial system. While the government should do everything possible to recoup taxpayer money, the goal should not be to maximize the return on investment.

The priority should be to get out as quickly as possible in order to remove the conflict of interest that comes with being both the regulator and the regulated.

I'm sure the minority stakeholders in AIG ( AIG) feel the same way. That stock has been rising steadily since the announcements about the sales of several units that will help it repay the government.

Here again, the proof is in the surging shares. AIG stock soared 12.6% Tuesday, one day after announcing plans to pay down a significant portion of its debt to taxpayers.

How much more of a hint do the folks in Washington need?

--Written by Glenn Hall in New York.

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