A couple more attribution examples:
These days, Ms. Krawcheck, a native of South Carolina, spends a lot of time running in Central Park. Leaving Citigroup felt “like I got a divorce,” she has told friends.
An addict of the fast-paced, take-no-prisoners New York lifestyle, she has told friends: “They kicked me out of the South. I only know one speed.”
One more, because I know this is getting to you, too:
Ms. Krawcheck has told friends that growing up in Charleston, S.C., as the daughter of a Jewish businessman and a Protestant mother taught her about being an outsider and toughened her for a career in a cut-throat, male-dominated industry.
“I have a real problem with this Times story,” I’ve told people around here. I’ve also said that my upbringing as the son of an Ashkenazi circus promoter and Sephardic candy peddler has left me with moderate coulrophobia and a taste for those orange peanuts.
In a sense, it is fitting that Krawcheck’s story would be told through this business-press-attribution shuffle since she is in many ways a business-press creation. As the Times story recalls, she rose to prominence in 2002 on the cover of Fortune, which hailed her as the “last honest analyst.” This latest Times piece takes business-media insiderism full circle.
It should be understood that my issue here with the Times revolves around attribution and sourcing. The piece is otherwise fine and shouldn’t be considered a puff piece. It reports, for instance, that Krawcheck was not considered to have done an especially good job as Citi’s chief financial officer.
After she leapt into Wall Street’s upper ranks, however, some of her appetites might have outpaced her abilities. When she first arrived at Citigroup, she oversaw an area with which she had deep familiarity — the brokerage business. But just two years later, Mr. Prince, Mr. Weill’s heir, promoted her to a substantially more complex job, chief financial officer.
Many analysts came to believe that Ms. Krawcheck did not handle that post well, especially after the bank began posting titanic losses and suffering downturns in some of its key businesses.
Also, the Times allows Citigroup officials to talk about Krawcheck under the same convoluted rules as Kra… I mean, Krawcheck’s friends:
Several sources close to the bank say that Citigroup did not oppose some of Ms. Krawcheck’s ideas but that it needed more time to consider them. And they say the bank had to move up the announcement of Ms. Krawcheck’s revised role because news of it was already spreading.
One executive in the wealth management unit, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the bank, said she was seen as counterproductive. “I think they thought she carried her advocacy too far,” he said.
So, what am I saying? Don’t do this story? Would the world be better off without it?
I’ll answer my own question (I’ve told my friends that I’m concerned about my creeping schizophrenia): I understand the problem, but it’s time for business-news publications to start pushing back.
The news value is low: no gender bias in the Krawcheck case. And all planes landed safely yesterday at JFK. This isn’t worth the credibility lost by allowing anonymous sources to use the paper to make assertions without accountability. She should come on the record here, obviously, or take her story to the Deal.
And there’s a larger issue here.
I don’t think it is fully understood among my old colleagues that it is a new day on Wall Street. The beat they once covered no longer exists.
Citigroup may look the same, but, Audit readers, it is now a ward of the state, a welfare case.
It is one of three banks to receive $25 billion from the U.S. government, which bought preferred shares only because no one else would.
The other two banks that got that much, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan Chase, didn’t need it as badly, as this stock chart plainly shows.
And unlike most welfare cases, Citigroup is distinctly undeserving. As we’ve written elsewhere, courageous reporting in the alternative press earlier in the decade demonstrated that Citigroup led the mainstreaming of subprime lending, principally through its CitiFinancial unit, a successor to the notorious Associates First Capital, which Citi bought in 2000. Indeed, it is doubtful that any bank had a more extensive conveyor belt running from subprime mortgage to substandard CDO than Citi.
Krawcheck’s career at Citi, from 2002 to 2008, pretty much coincides with the planting of the seeds of destruction that Citi is currently wreaking on its shareholders, its borrowers, its CDO-buying pension-fund clients, and the world at large. Was it her fault? No. But she was a senior executive, the CFO, for pity’s sake.