Bloomberg Invest Talks: A Conversation with Michael Corbat
December 4, 2020
By Kiley Lambert, Bloomberg Live
In this edition of Invest Talks, outgoing Citi CEO Michael Corbat spoke with Carlyle Group Co-founder and Co-Executive Chairman David Rubenstein about his eight years helming the banking giant, the legacy he hopes to leave and what he sees on the global economic horizon for 2021.
Click here to view video of today’s event.
- Michael Corbat, CEO, Citi
- David Rubenstein, Co-founder and Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group
- Mallika Kapur, Deputy Global Editor, Bloomberg Live
- On the incoming U.S. Presidential administration, Michael Corbat, CEO of Citi, said that he was pleased with the pick of Janet Yellen as Secretary of Treasury. “The banking industry has a good relationship with her… and I think she’ll do a great job,” he said. He added, “Shout out to another glass ceiling broken in terms of her becoming the first female Secretary of Treasury – which would be another great one for the books.”
- On the economy and stimulus: “I think right now with Covid-19 cases on the rise, additional stimulus through unemployment checks, PPP loans, rebates are all helpful tools to bolster the economy, while also helping individuals to recover from the economic hardship of the pandemic experience,” Corbat said.
- On the national debt and deficits: “We’ve been talking about deficits for a number of years and what is sustainable,” Corbat said. “I think the consequences and the prospect of lower for longer in terms of interest rates obviously significantly reduces or holds down borrowing costs, but we can’t believe that rates are gonna stay necessarily where they are forever.
“And that’s why I believe that it’s actually very important that we target in terms of getting the monies to those that are really in need, because we know that the longer this goes on and the more small business, the more individuals, certain geographies, neighborhoods get affected, it just makes the comeback from that much more difficult.”
- On technological advancements and fintech: “We don’t necessarily think of fintech as the competition,” Corbat said. “So what you’ve seen us doing in many ways is not just embracing the technology, using our strengths in terms of our global presence, in terms of our scale, to match with some [fintech companies’] agility, some of their new processes to create things that are new and outside the traditional bounds.
“We’ve partnered, we’ve made investments in some of those companies, we’ve created different arrangements and whether it’s been with Google or some of the other things you’ve seen us announce, I think it’s quite exciting and in particular around the future of banking.”
- On the future of digital assets and cryptocurrency: “I think that we will see in the not-too-distant future, a sovereign…digital currency coming out,” Corbat said. “We’ve been working with some governments around the world in terms of the creation and commercialization of that, I think it’s inevitable that that will be coming. And I think that some of these currencies will just be continued alternatives, continued different sources of payment that people can take advantage of based on the underlying nature of what they are.”
- On the transition: “So, we’re going through transition now, and transition was important to me because I didn’t really have the benefit of a transition, my appointment was fairly abrupt,” Corbat said. “And [incoming CEO] Jane [Fraser] and I are working closely, and I kind of deal with the day-to-day and she deals with the future of the company. I will stay out of the way when my time comes, but I’ll always be available. I’ll be available to her, I’ll be available to the firm, if they should ever want to reach out, but I’m not going to be armchair quarterbacking. I’m not going to be second guessing. I know how difficult the job is, and I have respect for that.”
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