Banker to the World: Leadership Lessons From the Front Lines of Global Finance

event_image Event offered by:
Foreign Policy Association

Event Details

Thursday, November 10, 2011
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM 
300 Madison Avenue
(between 41st and 42nd Streets)
New York, NY
Event type
Lecture / Panel  

Event Transcripts and Video

John Hatab PwC Distinguished Lecture on “Leadership Lessons from the Front Line of Global Finance”

Event Summary:

Given the urgency of the eurozone crisis, William Rhodes, author of Banker to the World: Leadership Lessons from the Front Line of Global Finance, was obliged in many ways to shape the presentation of his book to address the current challenges facing Europe. The former Senior Vice Chairman and Senior International Officer of Citigroup and Citibank began by outlining the economic and financial challenges facing specific eurozone countries such as Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Spain.

Significantly, Rhodes noted that whereas there was a time when “mature” economies did not feel they had much to learn from so-called “emerging economies,” that is not the situation today. Indeed, the author argued that analysts can no longer separate emerging and mature economies. The common denominator, Rhodes reasoned, is contagion.

Two points were central to Rhodes’ message as it concerned leadership. First, timing is crucial. Whereas eurozone leaders thought they had all the time in the world, it is increasingly clear that bold, decisive action is necessary. The second idea and what could aid in the implementation of resolute action is that of “crisis opportunity” – the central theme of Rhodes’ presentation. Faced with difficult and painful realities, this could be (and indeed Rhodes is hopefully optimistic) the opportunity to muster the political will to implement key guidelines of the Maastricht Treaty to which eurozone countries never adhered – most notably outlawing deficits of more than three percent of GDP with real consequences for fecklessness. After all, Rhodes pointed out the eurozone is currently a monetary union with neither fiscal discipline nor penalties. The key question then, which Rhodes puts to European leaders is whether they will recognize the opening which the crisis presents and as the sixth chapter of his book indicates (with the help of Mandarin), “Weiji - seize your (their) opportunities.”

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Part I: Introduction by Thomas Moore



Part II: Lecture by William Rhodes


Part III: Q&A

Event Speakers

    • William R. Rhodes - Speaker

      Bill Rhodes is a Senior Advisor for Citi. In his most recent role, Mr. Rhodes was the Senior International Officer for Citi. He had specific responsibilities for client relationships worldwide, as well as for relationships with governments and other official institutions.


      Mr. Rhodes gained a reputation for international financial diplomacy in the 1980s as a result of his leadership in helping manage the external-debt crisis that involved developing nations and their creditors worldwide. During that period and in the 1990s, he headed the advisory committees of international banks that negotiated debt-restructuring agreements for Argentina, Brazil, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay. In 1998, when the Republic of Korea experienced liquidity problems, he chaired the international bank group that negotiated the extension of short-term debt of the Korean banking system. In early 1999, at the request of the government of Brazil, he acted as worldwide coordinator to help implement the maintenance of trade and inter-bank lines by foreign commercial banks to Brazil.

    • William R. Rhodes