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Wriston: Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy
Banking is regarded by many as a dull activity run by dull people, but both come alive in this biography of Walter Wriston, CEO of Citicorp for 17 years from 1967 to 1984. His tenure covered major world economic events -- the cessation of the dollar's gold convertibility, the move to floating exchange rates, two large oil price increases and the accompanying inflation and recession that were dubbed stagflation, and the most serious international debt crisis since the 1930s. Wriston was involved in all of them, both as chief of the country's most internationally engaged bank and as counselor to sundry presidents, secretaries of state and treasury, and Federal Reserve chairmen. In a highly regulated industry, Wriston was a vigorous advocate of free markets. He was not always popular with the regulators, nor with other bankers, but during his tenure Citibank pioneered several financial market innovations, such as negotiable certificates of deposit and floating-rate notes in the U.S. market. This hefty, well-written volume also covers the post-Wriston legacy of Citicorp, including the real estate problems of the early 1990s, and offers a general commentary on world financial history since the 1950s from the perspective of one of the world's leading and most outspoken bankers.