Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Some interesting excerpts.......................

         By training an entire generation of foreign bankers in American methods, Citibank helped create its own competition.  But Wriston, who was convinced that there was nothing more dangerous than a dumb competitor, reasoned that the bank would benefit in the long run.


        At an auspicious June 30, 1961 luncheon, Kennedy lamented the poor quality of personnel who were working for the U. S. government in its foreign affairs agencies and asked Wriston and the other business and labor leaders to help him find better people for these jobs ... Wriston wanted to help.  but he told the president bluntly that top executives were reluctant to serve in government because of the difficulties they would have to face when they tried to return to their old jobs, particularly the grilling they would be forced to endure on potential conflicts of interest.  In fact, Wriston asserted, the government should try to recruit people who did have a conflict of interest, because they were the only ones capable of accomplishing anything.


       For his part, Wriston parted ways with Saxon on the notion of merging all of the bank regulatory agencies into a single agency.  He favored competition among regulators just as he did among banks.  "Every industry that's been regulated by one federal regulator has gone bankrupt over time,"  Wriston said later.  "The number one example, of course, is the railroads."


       All of this would reinforce for Wriston the folly of government interference in economic and financial markets and would soon demonstrate once again the principle that Wriston referred to as the "unintended secondary consequence of primary events."

-Phillip L. Zweig,  Wriston:  Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy

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