Citigroup (C) And Lehman (LEH) Will Disappear

Print Email

The story is the same every decade or so. Bad economic times cause well-known businesses to fail. They are bought out and merged, and they simply cease to exist as the public and investors knew them for decades.

After the 85-year-old Bear Stearns (BSC) went the way of all flesh, rumors surfaced that Lehman Brothers (LEH) or Citigroup (C) might be next. If things get bad enough, either one might get sucked up into another company.

The Fed kept Bear Stearns from being liquidated by financing a buy-out by JP Morgan (JPM). The agency cannot rescue all the firms on Wall St., so it has come up with a clever formula. It will give funds to the strong to buy up the weak. It is less expensive that way and tends to put the smartest management in charge.

Executives at Citi and Lehman have not been terribly smart, at least when it comes to keeping their businesses open.

A look back at the Fortune 500 from fifty years ago is not a bad lesson. Near the top of the list of the biggest companies sat Esmark, Armour, RCA, and Firestone. Someone owns all of those companies or their assets, but the names are gone.

The fact of the matter is that some of the companies at the top of the Fortune 500 are still in business. But, they do not look anything like what they did then. GE (GE) is a prime example. So is AT&T (T) which was on the list and then went off the list when it was broken up. Now, it is back on the list.

The Fed knows that it does not matter which brands survive, or which corporations do. The issue is what capital is preserved both for corporations and individuals, for saving and for lending.

Money does not care about brands or companies. The Fed is using that to its advantage by sinking the poor and giving the cargo to the rich.

Douglas A. McIntyre