I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Via Krugman, a snapshot from just 18 months ago, in July 2007:
The tributes to Sanford I. Weill line the walls of the carpeted hallway that leads to his skyscraper office, with its panoramic view of Central Park. A dozen framed magazine covers, their colors as vivid as an Andy Warhol painting, are the most arresting. Each heralds Mr. Weill's genius in assembling Citigroup into the most powerful financial institution since the House of Morgan a century ago.
His achievement required political clout, and that, too, is on display. Soon after he formed Citigroup, Congress repealed a Depression-era law that prohibited goliaths like the one Mr. Weill had just put together anyway, combining commercial and investment banking, insurance and stock brokerage operations. A trophy from the victory -- a pen that President Bill Clinton used to sign the repeal -- hangs, framed, near the magazine covers.
These days, Mr. Weill and many of the nation's very wealthy chief executives, entrepreneurs and financiers echo an earlier era -- the Gilded Age before World War I -- when powerful enterprises, dominated by men who grew immensely rich, ushered in the industrialization of the United States. The new titans often see themselves as pillars of a similarly prosperous and expansive age, one in which their successes and their philanthropy have made government less important than it once was.
''People can look at the last 25 years and say this is an incredibly unique period of time,'' Mr. Weill said. ''We didn't rely on somebody else to build what we built, and we shouldn't rely on somebody else to provide all the services our society needs.''
Ah, good times -- thanks to Sandy Weill and his ubermensch Wall Street genius cronies, unencumbered by government, regulation, and peons like you and me.
Alas. Motley Fool, a few days ago:
Let me be frank about my concerns with Citigroup (NYSE: C). It's not necessarily that I think it'll be a poor stock to own over the next year. Rather, I fear the possibility that it won't be a stock sometime in the next year.
Would I go so far as to utter the dreaded "b" word? No, but only because Citi has the backing of Uncle Sam, which all but assures that you won't see the word "bankrupt" next to its name. What's more likely, and what's already occurring, is that the dreaded "n" word -- nationalization -- will take a hacksaw to the scraps of value shareholders are still holding onto.
Who could have predicted it?
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.