from First Calvary Cemetery – photo by Mitch Waxman
Behemoth, that which exists in the tower has never lived. An ideation of law, insulting to the biologic origins of true life, the corporation is undying and eternal.
Founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York, ownership and management of the bank was taken over by Moses Taylor, a protégé of John Jacob Astor and one of the giants of the business world in the 19th century. During Taylor’s ascendancy, the bank functioned largely as a treasury and finance center for Taylor’s own extensive business empire.
In 1863, the bank joined the U.S.’s new national banking system and became The National City Bank of New York. By 1868, it was considered one of the largest banks in the United States, and in 1897, it became the first major U.S bank to establish a foreign department. In 1896, it was the first contributor to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
National City became the first U.S. national bank to open an overseas banking office when its branch in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was opened in 1914. Many of Citi’s present international offices are older; offices in London, Shanghai, Calcutta, and elsewhere were opened in 1901 and 1902 by the International Banking Corporation (IBC), a company chartered to conduct banking business outside the U.S., at that time an activity forbidden to U.S. national banks. In 1918, IBC became a wholly owned subsidiary and was subsequently merged into the bank. By 1919, the bank had become the first U.S. bank to have US$1 billion in assets.
In 1910, National City bought a significant share of Haiti’s National Bank (Banque de la Republique d’Haiti), which functioned as the country’s treasury and had a monopoly on note issue. After the American invasion of Haiti, it bought all of the capital stock of the Banque de la Republique. The bank became the target of criticism for what were considered to be monopolistic and unfair banking practices. It initially did not pay the Haitian government interest on surplus money that it deposited in the treasury, which was loaned out by City Bank in New York. After 1922, it began paying interest, but only at a rate of 2% compared to the 3.5% that it paid to similar depositors. Economist and Senator Paul Douglas estimated that this amounted to US$1 million in lost interest at a time when Haiti’s government revenues were less than US$7 million.
Charles E. Mitchell was elected president in 1921 and in 1929 was made chairman, a position he held until 1933. Under Mitchell the bank expanded rapidly and by 1930 had 100 branches in 23 countries outside the United States. In 1933 a Senate investigated Mitchell for his part in tens of millions dollars in losses, excessive pay, and tax avoidance. Senator Carter Glass said of him: “Mitchell more than any 50 men is responsible for this stock crash.”
On 24 December 1927, its headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentina, were blown up by the Italian anarchist Severino Di Giovanni, in the frame of the international campaign supporting Sacco and Vanzetti.
In 1952, James Stillman Rockefeller was elected president and then chairman in 1959, serving until 1967. Stillman was a direct descendant of the Rockefeller family through the William Rockefeller (the brother of John D.) branch. In 1960, his second cousin, David Rockefeller, became president of Chase Manhattan Bank, National City’s long-time New York rival for dominance in the banking industry in America.
from Jackson Avenue – photo by Mitch Waxman
Leviathan, it challenges legendary Babel, speaking inchoate platitudes in all the tongues of man. From its high seat, an inhuman thing- hungering to metastasize its influence and prominence -gazes greedily upon gotham.
The building, designed by Raul de Armas of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is handsome, even somewhat refined; its pale blue-green glass and transparent windows are obviously intended to reduce the impact of the vast tower on Long Island City, and to a considerable extent they succeed. This building would be a lot more overpowering still if it had been sheathed in reflective glass, or garnished with ornament from top to bottom. And the shape – a tower with stepped-back corners that rises straight up for most of its height, with small setbacks at the very top to create a hint of a pyramid where the building meets the sky – helps a bit more in reducing the apparent bulk.
from Skillman Avenue – photo by Mitch Waxman
Juggernaut, it leers at the manifest aspirations of both darkest night and the hopes of a most golden dawn, from across the river of sound.
When it emerged a few weeks ago that the codename for a daring $13bn (£6.8bn) bond trade in Citigroup’s London office last summer was “Doctor Evil”, it must have been much more than exasperation felt by the chief executive of the giant bank, Chuck Prince.
The grand strategy – to flood the European bond market and then rebuy at a lower price – had overtones of another fiendishly clever plan: the time when the top brains at Enron, using special vehicles known as “Deathstar” and “Ricochet”, took advantage of electricity blackouts in California to hike energy prices. Or maybe the Citigroup traders were thinking of their colleagues in Italy, who named a deal they struck with doomed food group Parmalat as “Bucerono” – black hole.
from Thomson Avenue – photo by Mitch Waxman
Monolith, it is a sapphire dagger aimed at the heart of God, a cathedral of dark secrets and obscure transactions possessed of the power to topple governments and destabilize entire continents- in mere minutes.
“Economic mismanagement” is a term used by the Washington based international financial institutions to describe the chaos which results from not fully abiding by the IMF’s Structural Adjustment Program. In actual fact, the “economic mismanagement” and chaos is the outcome of IMF-World Bank prescriptions, which invariably trigger hyperinflation and precipitate indebted countries into extreme poverty.
Pakistan has been subjected to the same deadly IMF “economic medicine” as Yugoslavia: In 1999, in the immediate wake of the coup d’Etat which brought General Pervez Musharaf to the helm of the military government, an IMF economic package, which included currency devaluation and drastic austerity measures, was imposed on Pakistan. Pakistan’s external debt is of the order of US$40 billion. The IMF’s “debt reduction” under the package was conditional upon the sell-off to foreign capital of the most profitable State owned enterprises (including the oil and gas facilities in Balochistan) at rockbottom prices .
Musharaf’s Finance Minister was chosen by Wall Street, which is not an unusual practice. The military rulers appointed at Wall Street’s behest, a vice-president of Citigroup, Shaukat Aziz, who at the time was head of CitiGroup’s Global Private Banking. (See WSWS.org, 30 October 1999). CitiGroup is among the largest commercial foreign banking institutions in Pakistan.
from 5th street – photo by Mitch Waxman
Cumbrous, this megalith is but one of the bothersome encumbrances- physical manifestations- of that unknowable thing dwelling here- which neither breathes- nor feels- or lives.
…This time, though, the company in jeopardy is truly gigantic. Citigroup is the largest U.S. bank by assets, with $2 trillion on its books. By contrast, Wachovia, which became the biggest bank to be done in by the financial crisis after being forced to sell itself to Wells Fargo this fall, has just over one-third as many assets.
Citigroup engages in almost every form of financial transaction available to banks and investment firms, making it heavily involved with almost every other large financial institution in the world. It is also deeply integrated into the nation’s financial history.
In the 1920s, a firm called First National City Bank started repackaging bad loans from Latin America and selling these to investors as safe securities. These investments collapsed in grand fashion after the 1929 stock market crash and eventually led to a new wave of securities regulation. National City Bank became Citibank, which in turn became a major unit of Citigroup.
Citigroup has incurred billions of dollars in losses in the past 18 months, once again by partly repackaging bad loans into what were viewed as safe securities.
from 23rd street – photo by Mitch Waxman
Diabolic, an untold intelligence works through its army of rapacious acolytes, who interpret its wishes and act brutishly on its behalf. The megalith is a sky flung altar and testimonial to their faith.
In Florida’s Everglades: In March 2007, Citi provided Florida Power & Light with $2.5 billion in financing. FPL is planning to build four new coal-fired power plants in Florida. Located in the heart of the fragile Everglades ecosystem, the Glades County plant would emit 16 million tons of climate-changing carbon dioxide, making it the largest single source of global warming pollution in the state. This plant is waiting on a recommendation from the Florida Utilities Commission. Learn more at Save It Now, Glades!
In Iowa: In early April, Citi amended a financial agreement with Dynegy – the power and utilities company sponsoring the largest build-out of new coal power plants in the U.S. – that will bring its total financial support to $1.8 billion for a company proposing to build 12 coal-fired plants that will emit an estimated 53.3 million tons of C02 annually. This week, Dynegy-owned LS Power plans to apply for permits to build a 750MW coal-fired power plant just east of Waterloo, Iowa. This plant will spew carbon emissions equivalent to nearly a million new cars on Iowa’s roads over its 40-50 year lifetime and pollute eastern Iowa’s waters with heavy metals. Iowans are in a desperate fight to stop it.
from 29th street – photo by Mitch Waxman
Pythonic, serpentine wires snake away from it- infiltrating all corners of the planet in the manner of some fearful Rhiozome- reaching out to its merciless disciples scattered across the nations to do its bidding. Crowned heads in Europe and in the Courts of the Orient favor the beast, unbound and loosed upon the earth.
On August 26, 2008 it was announced that Citigroup agreed to pay nearly $18 million in refunds and fines to settle accusations by California Attorney General Jerry Brown that it wrongly took funds from the accounts of credit card customers. Citigroup would pay $14 million of restitution to roughly 53,000 customers nationwide. A three-year investigation found that Citigroup from 1992 to 2003 used an improper computerized “sweep” feature to move positive balances from card accounts into the bank’s general fund, without telling cardholders.
Brown said in a statement that Citigroup “knowingly stole from its customers, mostly poor people and the recently deceased, when it designed and implemented the sweeps…When a whistleblower uncovered the scam and brought it to his superiors, they buried the information and continued the illegal practice.”
from Skillman Avenue – photo by Mitch Waxman
Voluminous, the megalith is the highest point on the Long Island, a great nail driven into the contaminant soil and through the heart of the Newtown Pentacle.
Its most famous office building is the Citigroup Center, a diagonal-roof skyscraper located in New York City’s Midtown Manhattan, which despite popular belief is not the company’s headquarters building. Citigroup has its headquarters across the street in an anonymous-looking building at 399 Park Avenue (the site of the original location of the City National Bank). The headquarters is outfitted with nine luxury dining rooms, with a team of private chefs preparing a different menu for each day. The management team is on the third and fourth floors above a Citibank branch. Smith Barney leases a building in the Tribeca neighborhood in Manhattan, the former headquarters of the Travelers Group and famous for its red umbrella sculpture.
In a truly well planned strategy, Citigroup’s real estate in New York City, excluding the company’s Smith Barney division and Wall Street trading division, lie all along New York City’s ‘E’ and ‘V’ subway lines. This means that the Midtown buildings the company inhabits — including 666 Fifth Avenue, 399 Park Avenue, 153 East 53rd street (Citigroup Center) and 1 Court Square (in Long Island City) — are all one stop away from each other. In fact, every company building lies above or right across the street from an ‘E’ or ‘V’ line subway station.
from 28th street – photo by Mitch Waxman
Omniscient, the cyclopean thing in that sapphire obelisk fixes its burning gaze upon the world of men, and trying to avoid it is folly.
Citigroup operates in over 100 countries and, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which is spearheading the campaign against it, has a hand in some of the most destructive development projects in the world. In Africa, Citigroup acted as chief financial adviser for the Chad/Cameroon Oil and Pipeline Project, which will cut through a rainforest and indigenous lands. In China, Citigroup underwrote bonds for the Three Gorges Dam, which will displace around 2 million people and destroy a rare river ecosystem.