The Multinational Monitor


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Citibank Campaigns to Expand Banking Operations - With a Little Help from a Gang of Criminals

Citibank isn't exactly encouraging people to rob banks in its new public relations gimmick, a booklet entitled "Old bank robbers' guide to where the new money is." But it does offer some advice for would-be Bonnies and Clydes: "Don't sandpaper your fingertips; study computer programming."

In a series of sketches, the booklet points out how thieves like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ma Barker, Jesse James and his gang, and Willie Sutton would be surprised nowadays by the changes which have taken place in the U.S. finance system. Money market funds, insurance and communications corporations, and brokerage houses-many of them subsidiaries of non-finance-based multinational corporations-now perform most of the nation's financial services, the booklet alleges, while banks' share of U.S. financial assets has dropped from 57% to 37% since 1946.

Old-fashioned laws restricting banks' activities, Citibank implies, are part of the reason: "Banks ... are prohibited from much of that new business by regulations dating from the era of Bonnie and Clyde."

Although the booklet makes no direct suggestions about what should be done to put more aspects of the financial business back in the hands of Citibank and other banks, it does threaten somewhat darkly, "Of course, if things continue as they are, there won't be any banks left to rob."

Asked about Citibank's purpose in putting out the booklet, public relations spokesperson Susan Weeks said that the information in it was gathered together for a speech given last year by Walter Wriston, president of Citibank. Publishing it in booklet form was "a way for us to catch people's attention about the fact that there are many more companies providing financial services than just banks," Weeks explained.

"Old bank robbers' guide to where the new money is" is available free from Citibank, Public Affairs Distribution Unit, 399 Park Ave., New York, NY 10043.

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