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Banking

Hairstyles of the rich and famous

Any American above a certain age working in finance remembers The Bankers, Martin Mayer's 1975 bestseller. But since then Mayer has become something of a cause célèbre of all things bank-related. Then he became chairman of a New York school board.

And now he has reprised his opus, and 1997's The Bankers (not as you might expect,The Next Generation) is a comprehensive look at the future of retail banking, with a special emphasis on clearing and settlement.

Inexplicably this is a best-seller.

His views on international investment banking are idiosynchratic. "The future of us banking is very much as a retail market," he says. Of more interest is the tonsorial fixation running through the book: everyone who's anyone in American banking is introduced with a line or two about his sartorial style or hair.

Take the introduction of Richard Pratt, a chairman of the Home Loan Bank Board in the Reagan era: "Black-haired, bull-necked, muscular, unscrupulous in controversy and terrifyingly intelligent, a rider of motorbikes, Pratt quickly saw..." Or "a square-jawed, tanned, rather military-looking, almost bald, fiftysomething entrepreneur named Robert Whalen," who turns out to be the founder of Founders Bank in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

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