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Phillip L. Zweig Collection on Walter Wriston

Call Number: MS197

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of research materials created or compiled by Phillip Zweig during the writing of his 1996 biography of Walter B. Wriston. It includes articles, annual reports, oral histories and other documentation related to Citibank and biographical information related to Wriston and his impact at Citibank.


  • Creation: 1900 -- 1997


Language of Materials



This collection may require review before it is available for use. Please contact DCA for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Any intellectual property rights that the donor possesses have not been transferred to Tufts University.

Biographical / Historical

Phillip L. Zweig is an award-winning financial journalist and author with a long track record writing prescient, groundbreaking articles and books on banking and finance. After breaking into print as a freelancer in the mid-1970s writing about sailing, shipping, and banking, he joined the American Banker in 1980 as a staff reporter. Less than two years later, he broke the story on the risky lending practices and wild antics of the Penn Square Bank of Oklahoma City, forcing the U. S. government to close the bank on July 5, 1982. The Penn Square failure wreaked havoc in the U. S. banking system and led to the collapse of the Seattle-First National Bank in 1983 and giant Continental Illinois a year later. For his coverage, he received the George Polk, Gerald Loeb, John Hancock, and Deadline Club awards in journalism and was cited by the U. S. Congress, the Columbia Journalism Review, and the Bank & Financial Analysts Association.

Zweig may be the only journalist whose reporting has actually forced the U. S. government to shutter a rogue financial institution, and one of a handful who has burst a market bubble. The collapse of Penn Square, together with the Mexican debt crisis, prompted the Federal Reserve to slash interest rates by five percentage points over the next several weeks, unleashing the longest bull market in history. In many respects, the Penn Square debacle set the stage for the current financial crisis. Most significantly, the 1984 rescue of Continental by the federal government gave rise to the "Too Big to Fail" doctrine, which governed the recent bailouts of Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, Citigroup, and AIG, among others.

In 1985, Crown published “Belly Up: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank,” a national best-seller that received rave reviews from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune and many other publications. Reporting for the Journal, he foreshadowed the savings and loan crisis with a page one August 1985 story on risky savings and loan lending practices. In 1997, as a finance editor at Business Week, he sounded the first alarm on the “minefields” of credit default swaps, which played a pivotal role in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

His 1996 biography of Walter B. Wriston, the late chairman and CEO of what is now Citigroup, was a finalist in the 1997 Financial Times/​Booz-Allen & Hamilton Global Business Books awards. Zweig also initiated and edited "The Asset Securitization Handbook," published in 1989 by Dow Jones-Irwin.

From 1999 until 2008, he worked as a media consultant and advocate for small, entrepreneurial medical device companies that for years have been seeking to reform the corrupt, anticompetitive practices of the $200 billion+ hospital group purchasing (GPO) industry.

Zweig holds a B. A. in behavioral psychology from Hamilton College and an M.B.A in management from the Baruch College Graduate School of Business. He is married and lives in New York City.


12 Linear Feet (10 boxes)


This collection is not yet processed.

Custodial History

Materials were stored at Zweig's summer home on Martha's Vineyard where they were exposed to damp conditions. Materials arrived at DCA with a strong mildew smell and most metal fasteners severely rusted. A minority of the boxes had been attended to prior to transfer and had rusted fasteners replaced with coated paperclips, but this activity was not uniformly executed.

Processing Information

Basic stabilization of materials occurred at time of accession. Materials were exposed to damp conditions prior to transfer and the majority of rusty fasteners were removed except in those cases where a later determination may be made to photocopy the originals entirely. One folder in box 4 was completely photocopied and the originals removed from the collection due to noticeable dampness in the paper and discoloration indicative of active mold growth.

Processing status

This collection is minimally processed and may not be available for research.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

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Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States