What's Killing Citigroup—Slowly

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak Image Jim Jubak Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

It turns out that survival, which was no small feat, may have been the bank's easiest task. Has it, as the finance chief says, “Turned a corner?” Go to a branch to check.

"We have turned the corner," Citigroup (NYSE: C) chief financial officer John Gerspach said as he announced Citigroup's first quarter 2010 financial results on April 19.

But I have to ask: What corner is he looking at?

Can't be the corner of 40th and Broadway near my office in Manhattan. There, a dingy Citigroup branch with beat-up ATMs is barely hanging on in competition with a refurbished JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) branch down the block (with ATMs that deposit checks without a deposit slip) and a new Capital One (NYSE: COF) office up the block.

Can't be the corner of 104th and Broadway, near my house, where a new Sovereign Bank branch is siphoning off accounts from local small businesses that used to be Citigroup customers.

Can't be the corner of my desk, where I've got my JPMorgan Chase mortgage bill stacked near my Fidelity credit card bills. I get regular annoying phone calls from Chase asking me whether I want to refinance my mortgage. I can't remember ever getting a mortgage marketing call or letter from Citigroup.