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What does it take to run a successful business? Brains, profit, a little humility - as anyone can see who looks at the dunce-caps and the gold-star winners in banking.
Citicorp, America's largest bank, announced Tuesday that it lost $457 million in 1991. And though the bank won't admit it, worse may be yet to come. As more of its loans on commercial real estate and risky corporate transactions go sour, it's certain that Citicorp will have to raise massive amounts of new capital - $4 billion to $7 billion by some estimates on Wall Street - severely diluting the value of the current shares.
Elsewhere, more than 1,300 U.S. banks were unprofitable last year, mostly because of bad real estate loans. Nor is weak bank disease an American phenomenon. The big banks …