Citigroup CEO Calls Jobs ‘Our Number One Priority’ Weeks After Announcing 4,500 Layoffs

As Reuters’ Felix Salmon noted, Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit went to the Davos Economic Forum to announce that job creation should be a top priority for the international business community:

The 42nd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting closed today, with business leaders urging resolute action to promote growth and employment, particularly among young people. “Jobs should be our number one priority,” declared Annual Meeting Co-Chair Vikram Pandit, Chief Executive Officer of Citi, in a session on the global agenda for 2012. “Ultimately it is about growth. Nothing creates jobs better than growth.”

But this proclamation comes just seven weeks after Citigroup announced 4,500 job cuts, and some analysts think those job cuts are just the “tip of the iceberg.” Overall, the financial industry cut 200,000 jobs in 2011. Bank of America has announced 30,000 job cuts that will take place over the next several years.

“Everybody knows, in any case, that profits are Pandit’s number one priority; to be honest I’d be surprised if jobs are on his priority list at all,” Salmon noted. “The markets like it when big banks cut jobs, and hate it when they add jobs. And Pandit’s job is to do what the market wants. Which is, fire people.”

To explain how to boost growth, Pandit broke out the favorite right-wing canard about “uncertainty” holding back job creation. But as economist Bruce Bartlett has pointed out, “regulatory uncertainty is a canard invented by Republicans that allows them to use current economic problems to pursue an agenda supported by the business community year in and year out.”