We've finally had a chance to sit down and read many intriguing books before the next round of hedge fund filings and wanted to pen our thoughts while the content was still fresh in our mind. Without further ado...
Robert P. Smith's book, Riches Among The Ruins: Adventures in the Dark Corners of the Global Economy can be summed up in one word: Entertaining. We know that can be a cliché description often used in reviews, but it really is the truth. Smith's work focuses on the personal account of his 30 odd years of buying and selling debt in developing (and often rough) countries. Before reading the book, we had heard him characterized as Indiana Jones and upon reading, realized that it was the perfect description. Smith's fascinating adventures could even be considered James Bond-esque in some regards. After all, he dodges bullets in Iraq, sprints for his life in the streets of Nigeria and loses millions overnight on a Russian trade gone wrong. As we sat reading, we had to stop and remind ourselves that he is a trader and banker, not a spy. If you enjoy the stories of Indiana Jones or James Bond, then you'll definitely like this book. And as an added bonus, you get to learn about some important topics of finance.
Smith is the founder and managing director of Turan Corporation, a firm that focuses on emerging market sovereign debt. Back in the 1970's, he essentially pioneered the industry and Riches Among The Ruins details all of his ups and downs. His life has been the definition of a roller coaster as he made millions of dollars, lost it, and then made it back again. This book is quite different from some of the other titles we've recently read in that it was less about financial theory and more about experiential wisdom and advice in the world of business. While we wish it would have delved into more financial depth, the adventure component certainly makes for an insightful, adrenaline-filled read.
Apart from all the trading and thrills, there is an important message: the dangers of economic collapse are still very much real. And while Smith's stories center on countries abroad, he pays special note of the situation in the United States, citing massive international debt levels, among other problems. He has seen the perils of economic collapse first hand and hopes to bring further light to the situation in an attempt to prevent it from happening on our own shores. Overall, Riches Among The Ruins is a riveting adventure that takes you deep within the world of emerging market debt. It is an area not often focused on in the mainstream and we thoroughly enjoyed learning more through his roller coaster ride.
Make sure to check out some of our other recent book reviews as well:
- The Greatest Trade Ever by Gregory Zuckerman
- The Murder of Lehman Brothers by Joseph Tibman
- Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns by Kate Kelly
- The Ivy Portfolio: How To Invest Like the Top Endowments by Mebane Faber
And as always, you can head over to our recommended reading lists for other insightful books, segmented by topic.