Risk is both a compelling novel and a cautionary tale that affects us all. In the vein of Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, Risk explains how markets can be subject to corruption and malfeasance. An old Wall Street adage holds ‘Hope is the death of the speculator’. Even the safest investments can get damaged in a market conflagration. Neither the Federal Reserve, the SEC, or any other regulatory body is a perfect guarantee of market stability.
Tell me a bit about your background in the financial Industry.
I spent thirty years working for Wall Street banking institutions. Much of that time was spent building and supporting trading systems.
What inspired you to write Risk?
The mortgage meltdown of 2008-2009. By then, I had left Wall Street but was surprised to read about the instruments that brought the system down, particularly Credit Default Swaps (insurance contracts on mortgage bonds) and CDOs (Collateralized Debt Obligations). These new financial instruments were a complete break from previous forms of collateralized debt. I was also shocked at the willingness of the ratings companies to give the issues a triple A stamp. The system had become corrupt and to some extent still is and I wanted to show this.
Is Risk your first book?
Do you see it as a cautionary tale, or simply a good read?
Both. My first goal was to make it a page turner. At the same time, I wanted to give readers a sense of how Wall Street operates.
What made you choose a female character as the strong international power in your novel?
Wall Street, and particularly the trading part of Wall Street, is dominated by men, giving the illusion that this behavior is fueled by testosterone. In fact, it is fueled by greed, an emotion over which neither sex possesses a monopoly.
The premise is even wilder than what happened in the 2008/2009 recession. Do you think the storyline could play-out in real life?
Theoretically yes but it would be very difficult because payroll is more complex than you might think. Unlike mortgages and simple loans, where terms and conditions are standardized, payroll regulations are different across state lines. That said, it is possible, as it is with any stream of payments. It could also be done without prejudice if people chose to do it right. In the book, they took another path, making the story a cautionary tale.
What do you want people to take away with them after reading Risk?
A couple of things. First, they should have had a good time thinking this was a good, fast read. Second, I hope they realize how markets are always subject to corruption and malfeasance. An old Wall Street adage holds ‘Hope is the death of the speculator’. Even the safest investments can get damaged in a market conflagration. Neither the Federal Reserve, the SEC, or any other regulatory body is a perfect guarantee of market stability.
Financial insider Robert Levey spent the last thirty years building and supporting trade systems for Wall Street. After the mortgage meltdown in 2008-2009, Robert wanted to expose how the system had been abused in the past and the possible vulnerabilities that could be lying-in-wait in the future.