Dirty Filthy Profits

Here’s an unexpected bit of good news:

Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said his bank is having the best quarter since 2007, when it last posted a profit. The shares rose as much as 38 percent and helped spur gains for finance company stocks.

“I am most encouraged with the strength of our business so far in 2009,” Pandit wrote in an internal memorandum obtained today by Bloomberg. “We are profitable through the first two months of 2009 and are having our best quarter-to-date performance since the third quarter of 2007.”

If miserable Citigroup has made a profit last quarter, could the economy have turned the corner already? Unlikely, but certainly possible. Jobs, after all, are a lagging indicator of economic performance — the last to hurt and the last to recover. And the domestic auto industry’s problems go back thirty years or more. Detroit’s complaint that the credit crisis is to blame for all its woes is a bald-faced lie.

But don’t let that stop our government from spending vast sums of money we don’t have. It’d be a shame to let a good crisis go to waste, even if the worst of the crisis has passed.