Here’s a story that’s flown under the radar. Citibank (NYSE: C) is in serious trouble. You probably already knew that, given the fact the banks’ been begging for billions from SWFs. But did you know that in late December Citibank quietly announced a restriction on wire transfers? The bank told customers that outgoing wire transfers from the banks accounts would be limited to just US$2k per day. Hmmn.
But wait. There’s more. Last week, under the guise of responding to a wave of fraud from automated cash machines, Citi also announced a limit on cash withdrawls from its ATMs in New York City. And you thought the money in your bank account was yours.
There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this. But the simplest explanation is almost always the best. Citibank is in desperate need of its capital. The best way to keep your customers money is to prevent them from taking it out of the bank. It’s a kind of low-level, mild-mannered capital control.
How has the Treasury managed the Citi crisis differently than the way the Bank of England managed Northern Rock? And what will the end result be for Citi? Stay tuned.
Markets and Money