The most influential billionaire politician in the United States
Peterson was born on June 5, 1926 in Nebraska to Greek immigrant parents. He’s a businessman, banker, author and politician and has prominently served as the United States Secretary of Commerce from February 29, 1972 to February 1, 1973 under President Nixon. Currently he’s considered to be the most influential persona in the country. He is included at the Forbes 400 list for 2014 and 2016. His fortune is estimated at 2 billion dollars.
His father ran a diner and changed his name from Yorgos Petropoulos to George Peterson.
Peter George Peterson joined the international advertising agency McCann Erickson in 1953 and ten years later he was repositioned Executive Vice President at Bell and Howell Corporation. Later on, he held positions as a director in a number of other firms.
In 1971, Peterson was named Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs by Nixon. One year later, he assumed the Chairmanship of President’s National Commission on Productivity and was also appointed Chairman of the United States –Soviet Commercial Commission.
He was Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers from 1973 to 1977 and of Lehman, Kuhn, Loeb Inc from 1977 to 1984. With Stephen Schwarzman, he co-founded the investment management firm Blackstone Group in 1985, where he stood as Chairman for several years. The fortune he made at Blackstone funded many of his charity and politics causes.
Among others, he was co-founder of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan citizens’ group advocating reduction of the federal budget deficit. In February 1994, President Clinton named Peter George Peterson as a member of the Bi-Partisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform.
In 1985, he succeeded David Rockefeller as Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and served until his retirement in 2007. Currently, Peterson serves as Trustee of the Rockefeller’s family Japan Society and of the Museum of Modern Art.
In 2008, he established and privately funded with $1 billion the Peter G. Peterson Foundation spreading public awareness related to the national debt, tax policies and other fiscal sustainability issues. He also funds the financial news website The Fiscal Times. On August 4, 2010 he signed The Giving Pledge cause and became one of 40 billionaires to make a commitment to give most of their wealth to charity causes, by the initiative of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
Peter George Peterson is married to Joan Cooney and has five children from his two previous marriages. In his autobiography, he blames himself for the misfortune of two of his three marriages, but he is now happy of having grown close to his children and grandchildren.