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Peter George Peterson

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Peter George Peterson (born Peter Petropoulos;[contradictory] June 5, 1926 – March 20, 2018) was an American investment banker who served as United States Secretary of Commerce from February 29, 1972 to February 1, 1973 under the Richard Nixon administration. Before serving as Secretary of Commerce, Peterson was Chairman and CEO of Bell & Howell from 1963 to 1971.[2] From 1973 to 1984 he was Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers.[2] In 1985 he co-founded the private equity firm, The Blackstone Group, and served as Chairman.[3] Peterson was Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations until retiring in 2007, after being named Chairman Emeritus.[2] In 2008, Peterson was ranked 149th on the "Forbes 400 Richest Americans" with a net worth of $2.8 billion.[2][3] He was also known as founder and principal funder of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting fiscal sustainability.[4]

Peter George Peterson
PeterGeorgePeterson.jpg
Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations
In office
September 1, 1985 – June 30, 2007
Preceded by David Rockefeller
Succeeded by Carla Hills
Robert Rubin
20th United States Secretary of Commerce
In office
February 29, 1972 – February 1, 1973
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by Maurice Stans
Succeeded by Frederick Dent
Personal details
Born Peter Petropoulos[1]
(1926-06-05)June 5, 1926
Kearney, Nebraska, U.S.
Died March 20, 2018(2018-03-20) (aged 91)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s)
Kris Krengel
(m. 1948; div. 1950)

Sally Hornbogen
(m. 1953; div. 1979)

Joan Ganz Cooney (m. 1980)
Children 5, including Holly
Education Northwestern University (BA)
University of Chicago (MBA)
Known for Co-Founder and Chairman of the The Blackstone Group, Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, Chairman and CEO of Bell & Howell

In 2012, Peterson was named the most influential billionaire in U.S. politics by the Los Angeles Times.[5]

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Peterson was born in Kearney, Nebraska, as the eldest of three children[1] to Venetia "Venet" Paul[6] and George Peterson, both were immigrants from southern Greece.[7][8] He had one younger sister, Elaine, who died of croup when she was one year old[8] and a brother, John, who was the youngest.[9] His father arrived in the United States at the age of 17 and worked as a dishwasher for Union Pacific Railroad and roomed on a caboose.[8] In 1923, George opened and then ran a Greek diner named Central Café in Kearney[8] after changing his name from Georgios Petropoulos. Peter began working at the cash register at age 8.[8] Transferring out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in his freshman year, Peterson later received an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and The Kellogg School, graduating in 1947 with highest academic honors, summa cum laude.[8][10] After college, Peterson was first married from 1948 to 1950 to Kris Krengel, a journalism student at Northwestern University.[11] He joined Market Facts upon graduation, a Chicago-based market research firm, in 1948.[12] In 1951, he received an M.B.A. degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, before returning to Market Facts as an executive vice president.[8]

Business careerEdit

Peterson joined advertising agency McCann Erickson in 1953, again in Chicago, where he served as a director.[2] He joined movie-equipment maker Bell and Howell Corporation in 1958 as Executive Vice President.[3] He later succeeded Charles H. Percy as Chairman and CEO, positions he held from 1963 to 1971.[2]

In 1969, he was invited by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller III, CFR Chairman John J. McCloy, and former Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon to chair a Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy, which became known as the Peterson Commission.[8] Among its recommendations adopted by the government were that foundations be required annually to disburse a minimum proportion of their funds.[2]

United States Secretary of Commerce (1972–73)Edit

In 1971, he was named Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs by U.S. President Richard Nixon.[1]

In 1972, he became the Secretary of Commerce, a position he held for one year.[8] At that time he also assumed the Chairmanship of President Nixon’s National Commission on Productivity and was appointed U.S. Chairman of the U.S.–Soviet Commercial Commission.[8] During his tenure, Peterson was a strong critic of the rising financial debt of the United States.[1]

Post-Washington careerEdit

Peterson was Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers (1973–1977) and Lehman Brothers, Kuhn, Loeb Inc. (1977–1984).[13]

In 1985, he co-founded with Stephen A. Schwarzman the prominent private equity and investment management firm, the Blackstone Group, and was for many years its chairman.[14] At Blackstone, he made a fortune including the $1.9 billion he received when it went public in 2007, that funded many of his charitable and political causes.[15][16]

 
Peterson swearing in the first woman officer of the NOAA Corps (1972).

Clinton presidencyEdit

In 1992, he was one of the co-founders of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan citizens' group that advocates reduction of the federal budget deficit.[17] Following record deficits under President George W. Bush, Peterson commented in 2004, "I remain a Republican, but the Republicans have become a far more theological, faith-directed party, not troubling with evidence."[17]

In February 1994, President Bill Clinton named Peterson as a member of the Bi-Partisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform co-chaired by Senators Bob Kerrey and John Danforth.[8] He also served as Co-Chair of the Conference Board Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprises (Co-Chaired by John Snow).[1]

Later careerEdit

Peterson succeeded David Rockefeller as Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations in 1985 and served until his retirement from that position in 2007.[3] He served as Trustee of the Rockefeller family's Japan Society and of the Museum of Modern Art, and was previously on the board of Rockefeller Center Properties, Inc.[3][2]

He was the founding Chairman of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (formerly the "Institute for International Economics", renamed in his honor in 2006), and a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development.[3] He was also Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York between 2000 and 2004.[3]

In 2008, he founded the Peter G. Peterson Foundation (PGPF), an organization devoted to spreading public awareness on fiscal sustainability issues related to the national debt, federal deficits, Social Security policy, and tax policies.[8] PGPF distributed the 2008 documentary film I.O.U.S.A., and did outreach to the 2008 presidential candidates.[18]

Peterson funded The Fiscal Times, a news website that reports on current economic issues, including the federal budget, the deficit, entitlements, health care, personal savings, taxation, and the global economy.[1] Fiscal Times contributors and editors include several veteran economics reporters for The New York Times and The Washington Post.[1][8]

On August 4, 2010, it was announced that he had signed "The Giving Pledge." He was one of 40 billionaires, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who agreed to give at least half their wealth to charity.[19] Most of his giving was to his own foundation, The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which focuses on raising public awareness about long-term fiscal sustainability issues.[8]

Political activitiesEdit

From 2007 through 2011, Peterson was reported to have contributed $458 million to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, to promote the cause of fiscal responsibility.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

He was married three times and divorced twice.[9] In 1953, he married psychologist Sally Hornbogen Peterson with whom he had four sons: John Scott, James, David and Michael Alexander;[6] and one daughter, the writer Holly Peterson.[21][22] They divorced in 1979.[21] The following year, Peterson married Joan Ganz Cooney, a creator of Sesame Street.[23]

In his autobiography he recalled his business and private life in which he blamed himself for the failure of two of his three marriages but expressed pride for having grown close to his children.[24]

Peterson died on March 20, 2018 of natural causes at his Manhattan apartment home at the age of 91.[1][8][9]

HonorsEdit

In recognition of his support, the influential[25] Peterson Institute for International Economics was named in his honor in 2006.[3]

In 2006, Peterson was honored with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution.[1] The same year he was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[20]

WritingsEdit

BooksEdit

  • Facing Up: How to Rescue the Economy from Crushing Debt and Restore the American Dream. Simon & Schuster; First Edition (November 8, 1993). ISBN 978-0-671-79642-6
  • Will America Grow up Before it Grows Old: How the Coming Social Security Crisis Threatens You, Your Family and Your Country. Random House; 1 edition (October 8, 1996). ISBN 978-0-679-45256-0
  • Gray Dawn: How the Coming Age Wave Will Transform America—and the World. Three Rivers Press (September 26, 2000). ISBN 978-0-8129-9069-0
  • On Borrowed Time: How the Growth in Entitlement Spending Threatens America's Future with Neil Howe. Transaction Publishers (May 1, 2004). ISBN 978-0-7658-0575-1
  • Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It. Picador (June 16, 2005). ISBN 978-0-312-42462-6
  • The Education of an American Dreamer: How a Son of Greek Immigrants Learned His Way from a Nebraska Diner to Washington, Wall Street, and Beyond. Twelve (June 8, 2009). ISBN 978-0-446-55603-3

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stout, David (March 20, 2018). "Peter G. Peterson, financier who warned of rising national debt, dies at 91". Washington Post. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Peter Peterson, Blackstone Co-Founder, Dies At 91". The Wall Street Journal. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Pete Peterson, Lehman Exile, Blackstone Billionaire, Dies at 91". Bloomberg. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  4. ^ "Resource Library Search - Peter G. Peterson Foundation". 
  5. ^ Hiltzik, Michael (October 2, 2012). "Unmasking the most influential billionaires in U.S. politics". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Peter G. Peterson". NNDB. 
  7. ^ Vexler, Robert I (1975). "The Vice-Presidents and Cabinet members: Biographies arranged chronologically by Administration". ISBN 9780379120905. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Peter G. Peterson, a Power From Wall St. to Washington, Dies at 91". The New York Times. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c "Greek-American Billionaire Peter G. Peterson Passed Away at 91". The National Herald. 22 March 2018. 
  10. ^ "Peterson Chair in Corporate Ethics established". Northwestern University. 
  11. ^ Peterson, Peter G. (June 8, 2009). The Education of an American Dreamer. Twelve. pp. 52–68. ISBN 0446556033. 
  12. ^ "Peter G. Peterson". Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. 
  13. ^ Ken Auletta, Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman, search pages, (Random House, December 12, 1985), ISBN 1-58567-088-X[page needed]
  14. ^ David Carey & John E. Morris, King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone, (Crown 2010), pp. 45–56
  15. ^ Blackstone IPO Prospectus
  16. ^ King of Capital, p. 5
  17. ^ a b Robert Kuttner (December 26, 2004). "What Killed Off The GOP Deficit Hawks?". Bloomberg. 
  18. ^ Bryan Bender, Movement warns of US bankruptcy, Seeks support for overhaul of federal budget, The Boston Globe, July 10, 2008.
  19. ^ "Peterson". 
  20. ^ a b Grim, Ryan; Blumenthal, Paul (May 15, 2012). "What Half A Billion Dollars Buys You In Washington". Huffington Post. 
  21. ^ a b Sicilia, David A. (August 30, 2003). Robert Sobel, ed. The United States Executive Branch: A Biographical Directory of Heads of State and Cabinet Officials. M–Z. Greenwood Press. p. 407. ISBN 978-0313325946. 
  22. ^ "WEDDINGS; Holly Peterson, Richard A. Kimball Jr". The New York Times. 1994-09-11. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-14. 
  23. ^ "Answers - The Most Trusted Place for Answering Life's Questions". 
  24. ^ Hurt, Hary (June 20, 2009). "Go East, Young Man, and Make Your Fortune". The New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  25. ^ James G. McGann (Director) (January 20, 2012). "The Global Go To Think Tank Report, 2011" (PDF). Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 31, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Maurice Stans
United States Secretary of Commerce
1972–1973
Succeeded by
Frederick Dent