Fortune asks Vikram Pandit what he has to say to the Occupy Wall Street people:
Well, I’d say that their sentiments are completely understandable. The economic recovery is not what we all want it to be. I would also corroborate that trust has been broken between financial institutions and the citizens of the U.S., and that it’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to Main Street and rebuild that trust. I’d talk to them about what we’re doing at Citi, talking about not only everything we’re doing to increase small-business lending substantially, to admitting that we can’t reach everybody who needs money or loans, and we’re working through community organizations to reach them, to saying that we’ve got to make sure that we deal with our customer transparently, fairly. And more important, I’d talk about the fact that they should hold Citi and the financial institutions accountable for practicing responsible finance.
And then the blather machine broke down and he had to stop. The ritual beatings by regulators have clearly taken their toll at Citi over the years. My guess is that by now, out of habit, Vik can’t go 20 minutes without apologizing to somebody about something. . . . What a pathetic lack of leadership on the part of the individual who runs one of the most consequential financial institutions on the planet. I just can’t imagine this guy, for example, chewing out the Canadian finance minister or asking Ben Bernanke if he knows what the heck he’s doing. Citi has survived; now it’s time to upgrade its CEO.