Citi's TARP payback is fine, but it's no solution


Today is Bash Wall Street day in Washington, as a herd of bankers gets rounded up to sit for a presidential tongue lashing. But Washington can't afford to alienate Wall Street too much because of the $5 billion in campaign contributions and lobbying fees that financial institutions have funneled to politicians in the last decade. So, today's announcement that Citigroup (C) will pay back the $20 billion in TARP funds is good for Citi's bonus-hungry bankers -- but not so great for America.

Before examining that repayment, let's explore the delicate relationship between Wall Street and Washington a bit more. The first thing to understand is that Wall Street isn't admired so much on Main Street -- 66% of Americans take a dim view of financial executives, according to Bloomberg News.