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We surely are in the twilight zone when capital constrained firms such as Citi can generate fictitious profits from their own debt's going down, among other favorable and highly questionable 'adjustments'. But isn't this part of the US system's ongoing accounting legerdemain? Social Security obligations growing? Ignore them. Cost of Iraq war? Keep it out of the annual budget process. And on the consumer side, incomes stagnant for years? Come up with new mortgage product allowing Joe Sixpack (or Winecooler) making 60K to afford a house' worth' 400K. Or crank up the credit card lending and hope that more stringent bankruptcy laws keep them toeing the line of self-imposed economic slavery. To paraphrase an old line, this is no way to run a debtor nation increasingly at the mercy of foreign investors.

Vitality N. Katsenelson concurred:

If you thought banks like Citigroup made money in the first quarter, think again. Its business just deteriorated and its bonds declined so much, but ironically that was one of the biggest moneymakers for Citi. They were able to record a decline in the value of their bonds as a source of revenues, which was almost double their reported profits. The lesson is: if you screw up, screw up big, drive your bond prices into the ground and voila', your profitability increases. Seriously, that is what happened to Citi last quarter.


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