CITICORP by Richard B. Miller


The Story of a Bank in Crisis
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 An amateurish and slipshod audit of Citicorp, the troubled holding company for America's largest commercial bank. In a once-over-lightly narrative that's longer on allegations than analysis, Miller (a financial journalist) goes out of his way to accentuate the negative. Of late, Manhattan-based Citi certainly has had its problems, including troubles with regulatory agencies (on the score of capital adequacy), defaulting borrowers, common stockholders (who have endured equity dilution, plus suspension of their dividends), and rival depository institutions offering stiff competition. Unfortunately, Miller (who seems to have relied almost exclusively on brokerage-house, corporate, and news reports) simply catalogues the varied difficulties experienced by Citicorp since John Reed replaced the storied Walter Wriston as CEO in 1984. And though he provides a haphazard rundown on Citi's origins (in 1812) and past achievements, the author fails to provide any substantive perspectives on banking-industry trends, the global economic environment, management policies, or allied factors that could shed light on Citi's plight. Miller also reaches a number of inconclusive conclusions. Commenting on the possibility that the famously aggressive Citibank may take a kinder, gentler approach to customer relations, he observes: ``We'll just have to wait and see.'' In like vein, while discussing Reed's reputed abrasiveness, Miller speculates that ``perhaps like all of us, he has his good days and his bad days.'' Moreover, the very premise here may well have been overtaken by events: Citi's income statement for 1992 (after allowance for loan write-offs and provision for bad debts) improved enough for S&P (a notably unsentimental watchdog) to upgrade its credit rating. The bottom line: not a solid reader-investment.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-07-042340-7
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993