Harry Blutstein
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The anatomy of an insurgency
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With the temperament of an insurgent, Walter Wriston used his position as head of CitiBank to bypass many of the Depression era regulations, helping free bankers in the US and around the world. IN addition, using the Eurodollar market, Wriston also showed how banks could internationalise their operations. Finally, lobbied to remove Bretton Woods’ rules, which had inhibited the free movement of capital.

After Wriston left banking in 1984, he continued his campaign through writing an influential book called The Twilight of Sovereignty. This book was important to neoliberals because it argued that free markets regulate themselves and provide a launching pad for continued economic growth.

The contributions Wriston made to deregulate the financial sector and to free global capital markets allowed global banks to grow to the point that they were too-big-to-fail and bankers became too-important-to-jail. In addition, through well-funded lobbying, banks became too-powerful-to-regulate. The result is a fragile economic system that has avoided significant reform since the global financial crisis of 2007/8, keeping Wriston’s legacies safe.

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