Market purity in a government age: BB&T’s lessons on corporate temptation
Culture of Competition CEO Series

Video

Post-Event Summary

On Thursday, during the first event of AEI's new Culture of Competition CEO Series, former BB&T Corporation CEO and current Cato President John Allison presented the ethical business principles that kept BB&T focused on long-term value for its customers. Rather than using government programs to create short-term stock increases, emphasized Allison, BB&T sought to create long-lasting relationships in the communities served by the bank, and at times went head-to-head with regulators and government officials to push for sound banking policy.

Allison attributed BB&T's anti-cronyism tendencies to its management training, which underscores the importance of ethics and creating meaningful work for employees. By striving to live according to BB&T's governing principles, said Allison, managers have the freedom to serve their customers in ways that best fit their needs instead of working for higher stock value.

He stressed that in cases when government regulation interfered with customers' long-term interests, the bank focused on compliance, but also lobbied for changes to the rule. Allison concluded by emphasizing that considering BB&T was the only bank that remained profitable for every quarter during the US financial crisis and recession, the bank's commitment to market principles affirms the superiority of free enterprise over cronyism and special privileges.
--Lori Sanders

Event Description
As political connections increasingly determine economic success, how should a principled, free-market CEO lead? AEI’s new Culture of Competition CEO Series will explore this important question. In this keynote, Cato Institute President and CEO John Allison will discuss his time as chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation, America’s 10th-largest financial services holding company.

As BB&T’s leader during a period of immense growth, Allison consistently stood for markets over special favors. Based on the experiences detailed in his latest book, “The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy's Only Hope” (McGraw-Hill, 2012), Allison will address the temptations created by government incentives and the principles that kept BB&T focused on true value creation rather than easy, unsustainable profits.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

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About the Author

 

Arthur C.
Brooks
  • Arthur C. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise at AEI.

    Immediately before joining AEI, Brooks was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government at Syracuse University, where he taught economics and social entrepreneurship.

    Brooks is the author of 10 books and hundreds of articles on topics including the role of government, fairness, economic opportunity, happiness, and the morality of free enterprise. His latest book, “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (2012) was a New York Times bestseller. Among his earlier books are “Gross National Happiness” (2008), “Social Entrepreneurship” (2008), and “Who Really Cares” (2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a classical musician in the United States and Spain.

    Brooks is a frequent guest on national television and radio talk shows and has been published widely in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

    Brooks has a Ph.D. and an M.Phil. in policy analysis from RAND Graduate School. He also holds an M.A. in economics from Florida Atlantic University and a B.A. in economics from Thomas Edison State College.


    Follow Arthur Brooks on Twitter.

  • Assistant Info

    Name: Danielle Duncan
    Phone: 202.419.5213
    Email: danielle.duncan@aei.org

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