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Michael P. Regan

Want to Shrink Banks? Try Greed

The potential for big gains could motivate shareholders more than their concern for the greater good.

Could we interest you in a safer global financial system?

No? How about a 57 percent increase in your investment?

This is how the push to break up big banks could gain some serious steam, and quickly. While politicians and policy makers like Bernie Sanders and Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari are discussing taking a chain saw to the too-big-to-fail banks to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis, it's debatable whether that's a wise route to take.    

However, shareholders may find a much more simple reason to embrace the chain saw: good old-fashioned greed.     

Splitting up Citigroup into one company focused on consumers and another focused on corporations could improve the valuation of the bank by more than half, according to KBW analysts Brian Kleinhanzl and Michael Brown, who on Monday published a long report pitching that idea.