A penny a share. So minuscule is the dividend just reinstated by Citigroup, even Vikram Pandit overlooks it when he affirms that the company will "begin returning capital to shareholders next year."

But the May declaration of a 1-cent quarterly payout was more significant than the token size of the dividend would suggest. Beyond carrying the implicit endorsement of the Federal Reserve, which had barred rival Bank of America from paying any dividend at all this year, it suggested that Citi was back in position to do things because it wants to, and not necessarily because its hand is being forced.

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