On My Mind: Finance and Books

Classic Financial Reportage

If you read Section C of the U.S. print edition of Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, you were treated to articles about banks trying to dump their souring energy loans, Citi squeezing a pass in this year’s stress test (it failed last year), the systemic ripple effects of the failure of Austria’s Hypo-Alpe-Adria bank (German lenders hold $5.5 billion of the bonds, but Deutsche Bank is “comfortable” with its exposure), and a Wall Street paid advocate claiming regulators are—contrary to what a lady in Chicago asserts–too tough on banks.

According to the people quoted in the WSJ articles, no one saw it coming: lower oil prices, lower housing prices, currency risk. Almost seven years after a global financial crisis, bankers educated at Ivy League schools still just don’t know that kind of stuff.

God’s Bankers

Yes, Chicago is cold in the winter, so what do I do besides work, play in the snow, and play at home? I investigate things that frighten the bankers, including some stuff that isn’t strictly business. If you want to read more non fiction about the history of money and power in the Vatican, I have good news! Gerald Posner has a new book, God’s Bankers, currently in the top 100 on Amazon. I can also recommend an older, in some ways darker book, God’s Banker, by Rupert Cornwell, written more than thirty years ago, when the press was still calling Roberto Calvi’s murder a suicide. There is no Kindle edition, but you can borrow it from your library or purchase it second hand via Amazon. While supplies last, it is a steal plus shipping.

Archangel high res Kindle March 2 210 x 315The Sequel

If all goes well, Vatican Gold, the sequel to my financial fiction (fi-fi) murder mystery, Archangels: Rise of the Jesuits will be ready by Christmas 2015. The Spanish edition, La rebelión de los Jesuitas, minus the sex scenes of the English edition and suitable for 13 and up, is due out before summer.

What Would You Be Willing to Do for Money and Power?

A memoir (in part, inspired by the suicide of my former boss), Decisions: Life and Death on Wall Street, is coming out right on schedule. My editor says the final files have been uploaded and approved by Amazon. The Amazon Kindle version will be released April 4, and the print edition will come out at the same time or shortly thereafter. (This book will not be eligible for discounts and Kindle Countdown deals to enable future wider distribution.)

Unveiled Threat ($0.99 USA, and 0.99 sterling UK through March 25 in honor of POTUS’s address to Iran)

It is a sign of how disconnected and increasing estranged POTUS is that he keeps saying ISIL (meaning the Levant, which includes Israel) , and he can’t make that meme catch on. Most journalists and almost all book authors (including Patrick Cockburn) say ISIS, (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria…yes, I know it spread beyond that, but it does not include Israel, for Pete’s sake).

To my surprise, the President of the United States addressed the people of Iran in a video. If he wants to persuade people to support his unpopular polices, then try persuading U.S. citizens. I am personally opposed to nuclear weapons for Iran. If you read my memoir, Unveiled Threat, you know that I believe he is horribly and dangerously wrong. By the way, “unveiled treat” refers to an unveiled woman.

In honor of truth (fundamentalist Islam teaches submission, not peace), I am offering a special Kindle Countdown deal on Unveiled Threat, through March 25. Another surprise, in the USA it is a popular biography with teens and young adults.

Next Geek Book?

I don’t have a deadline yet. I probably will not update Credit Derivatives or Structured Finance, (the books Michael Burry told the FCIC that he read before putting on his big short), since negotiating with Wiley is like negotiating with the Russians. But I will have books out on special topics: credit, swaps, tax trades. Meanwhile, you can read my free articles on basic definitions and concepts in structured finance.

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