"Banks are unprofitable because they make too many bad loans and their good loans have little profit in them. They also have the dubious advantage of an awful set of accounting conventions—" a rolling loan gathers no loss"—that permits them to mask their mistakes and hold assets without marking their value to market. Spreads are narrow, costs are high and there is too much reliance on insured deposits, with the accompanying incentive to take risks with someone else's money."

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  • “The World Bank’s Philosopher-King. . .renowned as an innovator”
  • “We should borrow the honorable Japanese custom and designate you as a “Living Institutional Treasure”
  • “It is a stroke of genius and I am thunderstruck that anyone could have such an inspired thought.”
    Financial Weekly
  • “A source of wisdom, integrity, innovation, and commitment”
    Executive Vice President of The World Bank
  • “In the financial markets around the world, Rotberg is held in awe.”
    Forbes Magazine
  • “For The London Times the news that Eugene Rotberg was leaving The World Bank was important enough to make the front page. . .well nigh irreplaceable.”
  • “One of the 40 most influential individuals in finance of the past 40 years.”
    Institutional Investor
  • “Financial genius. . .a formidable reputation in financial markets.  Rotberg’s presence alone—larger than life as it turned out—was worth a billion dollars or more for the organization.  In fact, he became a legend.”
    History of The World Bank
  • “The new treasurer dazzled us, the staff inside the Bank, and mesmerized those outside, on the Wall Street and the other capital markets across the globe.”. . .”Smiling broadly, he scooped up everyone, and transported us, as if we were on a magic carpet, to a far off place, to a location in the setting of a classroom.”. . .”Eugene Rotberg cruised the stratosphere.”
    The World Bank and Beyond
  • A man of deep sincerity, who cares for others and who manages to be the most competent of all professionals in his field while retaining a mix of humility and gentleness unknown among accomplished senior executives.  In a position of unique power where lesser beings would have accumulated enemies by the bushel you only collected friends and admirers.”


  • If one man can be held responsible for wrestling New York Stock Exchange into suggesting a $150 million rate cut, Rotberg is that one man. (1968)
    Institutional Investor Magazine
  • At the SEC, Gene had the task of leading the drive to abolish fixed commission rates and caused an uproar on Wall Street the way he grilled the brokerage firms.
    Institutional Investor Magazine
  • The SEC has a “Little List.”  It is throwing some explosive new ideas at Wall Street, and the Street doesn’t like them a bit.
    Fortune Magazine
  • I think he has amazed Wall Street with how much he knows about their business.
    Investment Dealers Digest
  • In the mid-1960s, he spearheaded the SEC’s push to crack open the New York Stock Exchange’s (fixed) commission rate schedule.  It was Rotberg, more than anyone else, who set in motion the forces that would culminate in the complete unfixing of commissions on “May Day, May 1, 1975,” and the dawning of a new competitive era on Wall Street.
    Institutional Investor Magazine

WORLD BANK (1968 – 1987)

  • When Gene Rotberg talks, Wall Street listens.
    Wall Street Journal
  • One of the world’s brilliant financiers.
    The Market Chronicle
  • The definition of consensus at the World Bank is everybody yelling at Gene until he changes his mind.
    Institutional Investor Magazine
  • In 1982, he did the first ever “swap.”
    International Financing Review
  • The World Bank, led by its outspoken Treasurer, Eugene Rotberg, in August 1981 became the first borrower to use the currency swap as a vehicle for raising new money. . . a huge new market was born.
    Institutional Investor Magazine
  • One of the most powerful intellects in the international capital markets.
    Euromoney Magazine
  • Frightening “do-gooder.”
    Philadelphia Inquirer
  • It was one of McNamara’s blessings when he got Gene Rotberg.
    John Gutfreund, Salomon Bros.
  • I’m glad that “when Rotberg speaks” the Journal of Commerce listens.  So do I.
    Sarge Shriver  
  • A recognized force for more than a decade in the principal world money centers.
    The Daily Telegraph
  • Who could ever replace Gene – a massive track record. . . . . .a great team leader.
    Institutional Investor Magazine
  • Eugene Rotberg should be reckoned as one of the world’s mighty market makers – a super tycoon even by Wall Street standards.
    Asian Finance Magazine
  • Everyone is talking about Rotberg.  You “wowed” the students. . . . .The students loved you.  For the business people you did a job which was genuinely superb. . .
    Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  • One of the best speeches we have ever heard. A unique and memorable occasion.
    Macalester College
  • Marvelous presentation . . . rave reviews.
    Columbia School of International and Public Affairs
  • (Senate Testimony)  You did a great job.
    The Honorable Christopher Dodd, U.S. Senate
  • Gene – But you have it wrong.  Most of what you report is not my doing, but yours.
    Bob (McNamara)
  • (Response to EHR story, “A Fairy Tale”)  It should make me smile, if it didn’t make me cry.  Withbest wishes,
    Bob (McNamara)
  • An admirable piece, so clearly, cogently and forcefully written . . . it reminded me how much we owe to the caliber, courage, and integrity of our international civil servant.
    I.C. Patel
    London School of Economics



The World Bank
Washington, D.C.  20433

Vice President & Treasurer

June 1987

Dear Friend:
I soon will leave public service after 30 years, the last 19 as Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank.  Within the next month, I assume my new responsibilities in the private sector.

I hold close the memories and friends which have so enriched my life.  Thank you for the kindness and support you and your colleagues have always shown me.  Robert Bridges, an English poet, is all that I have in my head now:

“I will not let thee go.
I hold thee by too many bands:
Thou sayest farewell, and lo!
I have thee by the hands,
And will not let thee go.”

Kindest regards,
Gene Rotberg

The World Bank
Washington, D.C.  20433

Senior Vice President
June 26, 1987

Mr. Eugene H. Rotberg
Vice President and Treasurer

Dear Gene:

Today, on your last day here in the Bank, I want to try, necessarily inadequately, to convey the deep sense of appreciation that I and all your colleagues and friends feel both for your work on behalf of the Bank and most of all for your reassuring, constructive and good humored presence among us, in these last twenty years.

Within the Bank, you have been a source of wisdom, integrity, innovation, enthusiasm and commitment which has not only enabled you to place the Bank firmly on the international map as a major financial institution, but also enabled you to attract and retain dedicated, highly professional staff – a sine qua non of your business.  Your management style encouraged striving for excellence, and candor in evaluating with colleagues both achievements and mistakes.

To many outside the Bank you, quite simply, were the Bank.  Your command of the financial issues gave substantive reassurance to often cynical, suspicious and jaded financial markets.  Your appreciation of the Operational role of the Bank and the challenges in meeting that role enabled you to promote the Bank not just for its financial strength, but also because of the compelling merit of its development objectives.

For all of this we thank you sincerely, knowing that our loss will be the gain of others.  While you will leave a large gap behind you, which we know we cannot fill in all its dimensions, you also leave behind a legacy of professionalism, and dedication which is truly invaluable and for which we are deeply grateful.

We hope you will enjoy this token of appreciation from your colleagues on the Senior Management Council, and senior staff in Finance and that the memories of the World Bank which it conjures up will be good ones.

So let me conclude by wishing you all the very best at Merrill Lynch and continued good health, happiness, and joie de vivre in the years ahead.



  • The words of praise from your staff, students, and associates have never been superficial or trite – but a genuine reflection of our respect, loyalty, and affection.
  • With your name in the headlines of the international press and your photograph on front pages, you certainly have the external confirmation of what an impact your career has had on international financial circles.           
  • “Etre de ceux auxquels les hommes croient,
    Dans lesquels des milliers d’yeux cherchent l’ordre
    A la voix desquels des routes s’ouvrent,
    Des pays se peuplent,
    Des villes surgissent”

    To be one of the men in whom many believe,
    In whose eyes many look for order
    At whose voice many paths are opened
    Many countries are populated
    Many cities arise. 
  • “My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains my senses, as though of some hemlock I had drunk.”  I think Yeats best expresses my sentiments at this time.
  • You do not know me and I really only know about you; -- however, I, along with many, many colleagues, feel almost bereaved because you have left the Bank.  And your moving letter confirmed the loss.
  • We – Bank Staff – are like an ocean liner without a captain – tossing about I the open sea.
  • I thought that I should certainly be proud to be a World Bank staff member if this fellow, obviously a man possessed of wit, principles, insight, and humor, is typical.  I do hope the brilliant young people who want to follow in your footsteps note particularly your example of public service as an integral part of a successful, exciting career.
  • Quite apart from the financial good you have done for the Bank and its members, I think you hold and practiced a set of values which are beyond price; and I fear we shall all be diminished by your absence.
  • From the very bottom of the totem pole, the underground part, I always thought you were the greatest.  Now that you are leaving, I wanted you to know:  you are my hero!                                                                                                                           
  • I have had no working contact with you in my nine years’ service but I would like you to know that your talk to the orientation seminar in 1979, was brilliant and provocative, and has influenced my view of the Bank in the World more than anything I have read or heard.            
  • I can hardly claim to have been an intimate associate, although I did meet you on a few occasions.  Nevertheless, I should like to add my own small voice to that of the world press, and say your goal is a major loss for the Bank.  I also remember you for your unfailing courtesy to your colleagues however junior, and your witty and interesting speeches.                                                          
  • The World Bank has lost its image and real leader.  The future will tell about the advantage Senior Management had from 1968 through 1987 when they had the chance to use your outstanding skills and your creativity.    


  • On behalf of all of us, please accept my congratulations on the occasion of your retirement from The World Bank where you have made such a major contribution over the past thirty years.  Without doubt the financial department of The World Bank is the most effective and most professional that we have ever dealt with.
    Dominion Securities Inc.
  • I cannot think of anybody more suited for leading the Bank on the problems of financing the developing world.  Certainly you are the only person in the last few months who has shown imagination and innovation in a framework that looks to be politically impossible. 
    The Bank of Nova Scotia
  • Your international reputation is brilliant.  I am sure that the private sector will appreciate your extraordinary expertise.
    Banque Paribas
  • Over all the years with the World Bank your leadership and business genius have earned you an enviable reputation, of which you are fully justified in being proud.  Under your leadership the World Bank has become the largest and most innovative borrower in the world.
    Der Genossenschaftlichen Centralbank 
  • You left your mark as a most dynamic and innovative Treasurer during a very difficult phase in the Bank’s development.  Our own adherence to well-proven and somewhat conservative principles of central banking may on occasion have made it hard for us to keep up with the pace at which financing instruments and methods were developed within the Bank under your guidance.  Discussion with you personally have been most helpful in dispelling any reservations that may have existed at the outset.
    Deutsche Bundesbank
  • You’ve been a tremendous asset and you will be a tremendous loss.  But I respect your decision.  You have contributed greatly to the success of The World Bank over the years and are held in high esteem by your peers around the world.
    A.W. Clausen
    Bank of America
  • A man who is willing to quote what must be a love poem in this type of letter has a lot going for him.
  • Your service at the World Bank over the past 19 years will stand out as an extraordinary and brilliant career in itself, quite apart from whatever else you may have been engaged in over the past 30 years in the public service.  The World Bank will be in your debt in a very special way.  Let me say that personally every contact I have had with you during your World Bank tenure has been one of pleasure and intellectual stimulation.
    Shearson Lehman Brothers
  • It is exciting to know someone whose departure shakes the cockles of the world.  It is a very stylish exit.
    Bob Haack, Pres., New York Stock Exchange
  • I developed the highest admiration for your experience ad competence in the field of finance.  It would be very difficult to find anyone else who can match your abilities in this field.
    Commission on Centre State Relations
    New Delhi, India
  • For a Minister of Finance it is difficult to imagine the World Bank without your familiar figure as Treasurer. . .You have been a pillar of the Bank for nearly two decades and thus acquired enormous merits in the struggle of the developing world and the combat against the roots of poverty.
    Finance Ministry, Luxembourg
  • . . . regret that the World Bank will lose the “pope of public issues and international credits.”
  • Words can hardly express the feeling of great loss that your fellow borrowers experience as they contemplate your track record at the Bank and what you might have continued to give us by way of inspiration and example.
    Riksgalds Kontoret, The Swedish National Debt Office
  • It is difficult to imagine the World Bank without its farsighted, prudent, highly experienced and knowledgeable guide standing behind its financial steering wheel.  I join in the enormously large group of all those, who had occasion to meet with you who have been proud to know you and who deeply regret your departure from the key role you have played so very well in this leading international organization.
    Bank LEU Ltd., Zurich
  • Over the years, you have made no small contribution to China’s economic development.  Your advice on financial and investment management, in particular, was of much value to us. . .Needless to say, on a personal level, I am very pleased that we have become good friends.
    Li Peng
  • I was, indeed, moved by the lines which you sent, quoting the English poet Bridges on occasion of your departure from The World Bank, where you performed such outstanding services.  I will forever remember the remarkable oratory dinner speeches which you gave on occasion of the World Bank Meetings!
    Badische Kommunate handesbank Girozentrale
  • Over the years, I have always been impressed by the outstanding leadership you have exercised not only in the bank but also in the development of the world economy.
    Kokusai Securities Co., Ltd.
  • You really did a lot not only for the World Bank but also for the development of international capital markets, particularly Tokyo market.  I participated again Euromoney’s Seminar as a speaker early June in New York.  Last year you chaired the meeting and introduced me with many kind remarks.  The meeting was never the same without you.
    Yamaichi Securities Co., Ltd.
  • Only you know what a gaping hole you have left.
    Bank of England
  • I can not evisage the World Bank without you nor can I envisage the international capital markets without your presence, contribution and innovativeness as a  borrower. . . As I am sure you know, you have a great many friends in the international financial community and a not inconsequential number here at Rothchilds.
  • What changes you have seen during your thirty years of public service, everything from the recovery of economies after the Korean War, to the granting of independence by reluctant governments to their colonial dependents; and latterly, whilst serving at the Bank, the Arab-Israeli conflicts, the arrival of the euro-markets, petro-dollars and rescheduling, all of which affected your work profoundly.  You will indeed bring a unique perspective to the private sector.
    Samuel Montagu & Co. Ltd.
  • For a bureaucrat to achieve the affectionate rather than sycophantic respect of would be suppliers is a noteworthy and memorable achievement, let alone all the descants and cantatas that you added to the international financing themes.
    S.G. Warburg & Co. Ltd.