Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser estimates the likelihood of a recession to be very high.

In a press briefing in Frankfurt, the Scottish native with US citizenship said that the region is currently particularly affected due to its proximity to Russia and its dependence on supply chains and energy imports.

However, a possible economic downturn is manageable because it can be traced back to individual events, but not to the state of the economy as a whole.

Markus Fruehauf

Editor in Business.

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Fraser, who was the first woman to take over the management of a major American bank in March 2021, referred to her institute’s European loan portfolio, which was in healthy condition after the corona pandemic.

In addition, consumers still had sufficient reserves.

However, some major risks still loomed due to rising oil and gas prices.

She sees high inflation in Europe as a major challenge, especially for the European Central Bank (ECB).

Fraser, 54, believes the Federal Reserve should raise interest rates to curb inflation.

The American central bank, the Federal Reserve, currently has more leeway to tighten monetary policy, since the economy there is significantly less dependent on energy imports than the European economy.

There are currently many inflationary developments.

In addition to the Ukraine war, Fraser also included the long corona lockdowns in China.

International reach of great importance

With regard to Citigroup, she emphasized the large international reach as the most important characteristic.

Customers value the global positioning because the bank is anchored locally and does not just consist of a group of people who have just been flown in.

The employees of Citigroup have an understanding of the respective local issues.

"We always try not to have to withdraw from a country," she said, adding, "But local resources can change."

Currently, Citigroup – with total assets of 2.3 trillion dollars the third largest bank in the United States after JP Morgan (3.95 trillion) and Bank of America (3.24 trillion) – is withdrawing from Russia.

In the first quarter, the bank reduced the volume of its business there from 9.8 billion to 7.8 billion dollars.

Citigroup estimated the possible losses in its quarterly report at 2.5 to 3.0 billion dollars.

Fraser said that Russian business has been increasingly shut down since the invasion of Ukraine.

Only the large multinational corporations, which, like the pharmaceutical companies, are still on site for humanitarian reasons, would be supported.

Citigroup also has a branch store in Russia, the sale of which is currently uncertain.

Fraser emphasized that other developments are currently causing her more concern than the Russian business.

These included food prices, energy security and, most importantly, cyber risks.

Your bank invests billions of dollars in cyber security every year.

Attacks on the computer systems are currently the greatest risk for Fraser, not only since the Ukraine war and the concerns of Western security authorities about Russian hacker attacks.

Fraser described the 80 percent rise in food prices in Africa as a catastrophe.

Since she took over as chief executive officer in March 2021, Citigroup's share price has lost 22 percent, while the US bank stock index KBW has only lost 0.8 percent.

The American star investor Warren Buffett, whose holding company Berkshire Hathaway acquired 2.8 percent of Citigroup for $3 billion two weeks ago, gave her some tailwind.

Fraser didn't want to speak for him, but did indicate that Buffett is known as a value-oriented, long-term investor.