In January 1998, the British weekly The Economist called the British bank Lloyds a “money machine”. Such an outcome was far from inevitable for a bank that had been one of the hardest hit victims of the 1982 sovereign debt crisis, when most developing countries found themselves unable to repay debts accumulated over the course of the 1970s. Having overextended itself in the developing world, it took Lloyds more than a decade to return to profitability. This result was the consequence of a complete transformation of the bank’s business and management model. Branches and international loans were sidelined, as was the investment banking business, deciding to focus its activities on domestic banking. The article analyses the reasons behind the transformation of Lloyds Bank from a national bank to an international power in the 1970s and, therefore, the reverse process between the 1980s and 1990s following the sovereign debt crisis. Thanks to the examination of archival documents recently opened for consultation, the article sheds new light on various issues analysed from banking and business history, in particular on how risk is calculated, how innovative decisions are made in a context of crisis and on the role of managers in shaping and changing the culture of these institutions.