• Adapting To Change (1966 - 1985)

    By the late 1960s the postwar boom was ebbing: drift and doubt began to creep back into the economy. Through the 1970s CIT redefined its business lines in a successful effort to stay ahead of landmark changes in politics, culture, and the economy. 

    New Needs, New Directions

    Economics is not just about money but also about jobs, homes, education and other core components of daily life. CIT's extensive involvement in the national economy placed the company directly into the currents of change transforming America from the 1960s onward. Those changes required new degrees of foresight and flexibility.

    The Vietnam War and the widespread urban riots following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968 spurred new introspection among Americans. CIT undertook work-study programs, on-site job training and other measures to create opportunities for minorities and women. CIT also made internal changes. In 1969, it withdrew from auto financing, once a pioneering business, and turned instead to personal and home equity loans and equipment leasing. To pursue those aims, CIT acquired two more banks in 1970, while maintaining its commitment to social change by offering loans for minority-owned small businesses, as well as a $5.6 million loan for a low-income housing project in Georgia.

    Stall and Recovery

    CIT enjoyed unprecedented success in 1971, noting record-high earnings for the twentieth consecutive year. But in 1972, CIT profits declined 3.3 percent, reflecting "stagflation" in the national economy - a perplexing combination of unemployment and inflation. A subsequent oil embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) aggravated matters by escalating energy and raw materials costs, but by 1977 vigorous consumer spending, assisted in part by CIT more than 1,000 consumer finance offices, had fueled a recovery. In 1979, however, restrictive banking rules prompted CIT to sell its bank, National Bank of North America.

    New Rules, New Era

    Just a year later, after Ronald Reagan's election as U.S. President, the government eased business regulations and triggered a decade of corporate mergers and acquisitions. CIT offered numerous financial services and business assets that appealed to many corporations. Accordingly, in 1980 RCA Corporation acquired CIT and sold its four manufacturing businesses - Picker, Gibson, All-Steel and RACO. Despite these changes, CIT net earnings of $177.4 million were the highest in its history. In 1982, CIT sold its Madison Avenue building and prepared to move to new, campus-like quarters in Livingston, NJ, in 1983, the company's 75th anniversary year.

    In 1984, RCA sold CIT to Manufacturers Hanover Trust Corporation, which felt that CIT experience serving mid-size companies would complement its own in larger businesses. The two companies' combined factoring operations, for example, marked $8 billion in business volume in 1984, making the merged operation the largest factoring unit in the world. Meanwhile, CIT continued its long-time involvement in energy exploration and in commercial aircraft, shipping and equipment leasing.