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But it was 1980, South Dakota's economy was a mess, and suspicion was an instinct that Janklow could not afford. "It was very simple,'' said Walter Wriston, then the chairman of Citibank.

"We were going broke.'' The bank had lost more than

But it was 1980, South Dakota's economy was a mess, and suspicion was an instinct that Janklow could not afford. "It was very simple,'' said Walter Wriston, then the chairman of Citibank."We were going broke.'' The bank had lost more than $1 billion on its audacious foray into the credit card business, and the future looked even worse."All you have to do is lift the usury ceiling to some reasonable amount and we'll stay here," Mr. We're not going to do anything.'" What allowed Wriston to make good on his threat to leave New York was a little-noticed December 1978 Supreme Court ruling.

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But it was 1980, South Dakota's economy was a mess, and suspicion was an instinct that Janklow could not afford. "It was very simple,'' said Walter Wriston, then the chairman of Citibank.

"We were going broke.'' The bank had lost more than $1 billion on its audacious foray into the credit card business, and the future looked even worse.

"All you have to do is lift the usury ceiling to some reasonable amount and we'll stay here," Mr. We're not going to do anything.'" What allowed Wriston to make good on his threat to leave New York was a little-noticed December 1978 Supreme Court ruling.

Wriston recalled telling New York's political leaders. The Marquette Bank opinion permitted national banks to export interest rates on consumer loans from the state where credit decisions were made to borrowers nationwide. Janklow that if South Dakota would quickly pass a bill inviting Citibank into the state, he would bring 400 jobs.

Fraud was receding and banks were finally beginning to see profits after sending out more than 100 million credit cards.

By 1978, the plastic revolution seemed like it was here to stay. By 1980 Citibank was being squeezed between New York state usury laws and double-digit inflation rates.

The trouble, simply put, was that the rate of inflation exceeded the amount of interest Citibank was allowed to charge its credit card customers under New York usury laws.

billion on its audacious foray into the credit card business, and the future looked even worse.

"All you have to do is lift the usury ceiling to some reasonable amount and we'll stay here," Mr. We're not going to do anything.'" What allowed Wriston to make good on his threat to leave New York was a little-noticed December 1978 Supreme Court ruling.

Wriston recalled telling New York's political leaders. The Marquette Bank opinion permitted national banks to export interest rates on consumer loans from the state where credit decisions were made to borrowers nationwide. Janklow that if South Dakota would quickly pass a bill inviting Citibank into the state, he would bring 400 jobs.

Fraud was receding and banks were finally beginning to see profits after sending out more than 100 million credit cards.

By 1978, the plastic revolution seemed like it was here to stay. By 1980 Citibank was being squeezed between New York state usury laws and double-digit inflation rates.

The trouble, simply put, was that the rate of inflation exceeded the amount of interest Citibank was allowed to charge its credit card customers under New York usury laws.

"The Chicago Debacle" It was just before Christmas when five million cards were dropped by a group of Midwestern banks scrambling to be the first to reach the untapped Chicago market of holiday shoppers.Cardholders, it turned out, were willing to keep on paying 18 percent interest long after inflation subsided and the Federal Reserve lowered the interest rates it charged banks.Between 19, the number of credit cards more than doubled, credit card spending increased more than five-fold and the average household credit card balance rose from 8 to nearly ,700."That's never happened to me before or since." The inflationary spiral that pushed Citibank to the precipice of disaster propelled the credit card industry into a decade of enormous profits.The elimination of usury restrictions paved the way for double-digit growth.

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