Citi profitable in 2009? Really?

Some people may wonder if Vikram Pandit, Citigroup (C) CEO, is living in an alternative universe. But the real question is why Citi's board and the U.S. Treasury are coddling Pandit. Could it be because Pandit promises that Citi will be profitable in 2009?

I doubt it. More likely, the reason is that nobody better is willing to step into the thankless job of being CEO of Citi. Pandit has a compelling track record of being overly optimistic, according to a Reuters interview with David Williams, head of European bank research at Fox, Pitt-Kelton.