Vikram Pandit, chief executive of Citigroup, on Thursday blamed short selling rather than any self-inflicted weakness for the bank’s near-collapse in 2008 and thanked taxpayers for its government bail-out. His comments, made in testimony to the bipartisan Congressional Oversight Panel, will be disputed by many analysts who identified fundamental problems with Citi’s balance sheet. “There were a number of instances post the Lehman collapse?...?where the markets were not really functioning in a rational way – they were frozen,” Pandit said. “There are ways that fear overtakes it and that’s the tool that short sellers need to make money.” Short sellers borrow stock in a company, sell it and hope to buy it back at a lower price. Pandit added: “This was not a fundamental situation. It was not about the capital we had, not about the funding we had at that time.” Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, took issue with Pandit. “His bank has got the highest [credit] loss rate of any of the big four,” he said. “The shorts were just responding – the emperor had no clothes.”