Hard as it may be to believe, shares of beleaguered Citigroup are on fire.
The stock of the de facto U.S. government-owned bank is up some 300 percent after it cratered at around $1 back in early March.
The over-caffeinated stock maven Jim Cramer keeps calling Citi a "buy, buy, buy" on his nightly CNBC television show. Even the more sober-minded writers at Barron's are pounding the table a bit, predicting Citi shares could double in price in three years."
Time out! It's far too soon for anyone but stock flippers and fast money hedge funds to buy Citi right now.
That's because there's still a world of hurt for Citi in the $83.2 billion in subprime mortgage-backed securities, corporate loans, home loans and commercial real estate mortgages that the bank's finance team has stuffed neatly into something called the "Special Asset Pool."
But there's nothing special at all about these assets. This cesspool of toxic securities and floundering loans is the worst of the stuff that's been stinking up Citi's balance sheet.