Saturday, 14 March 2009

Major US Banks Are Profitable....... Oh Puhlease!

Putting aside the media's facile obsession with explaining every tick of the tape with an event, lest''s examine the supposed reason for the beginning of this rally. The idea that Citi was profitable in the first two months of 2009.

The argument goes that writeoffs are non-cash and therefore don't affect cashflow or profitability. That's great if you ignore the balance sheet. Remember write-offs are euphemisms for mistakes and in this case it is the reversal of falsely booked profits in prior years.

Write-offs are taken through the P&L and then written off against equity in the balance sheet and if a company has no equity it's out of business, especially if it is a bank that has to maintain a certain level of equity. Where would Citi be if it didn't get $45 billion of equity injections and $300 billion of assets guaranteed by the government.

As for excluding credit losses that argument is even more ridiculous, a bank is in the business of extending credit and thus credit losses are part of the business, how can you possibly exclude them? That's like saying GM is profitable if you exclude what it costs to make cars.

Anyway Krudlow the Clown and his clueless minions Jerry the echo Bowyer and Dick Bove bought into the whole scenario. Luckily Joe B was there to tell them what morons they are. Remember that Dick Bove was the same guy that said a year ago to buy Citigroup at $30, that they didn't need to cut their dividend and that the credit crunch was over! This guy is a bank analyst and yet he clearly doesn't know how banks work. Watch this incredible display below:

Market Rally Continues
Market Rally Continues

ps. I said something else in that post a year ago and that is that I watch too much CNBC, some habits are hard to break.