#BlogTour A Banker’s Journey by Daniel Gross

 It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour A Banker’s Journey: How Edmond J. Safra Built a Global Financial Empire by Daniel Gross.

About the Author

Daniel Gross is one of the most widely read writers on finance, economics, and business history. Over the past three decades, he has reported from more than thirty countries, covering everything from the dotcom boom to the global financial crisis and the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

Gross worked as a reporter at The New Republic and Bloomberg News, wrote the “Economic View” column in The New York Times, and served as Slate’s “Moneybox” columnist. At Newsweek, where he was a columnist and correspondent, he authored seven cover stories. He is a bestselling author of eight books, including Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time; Generations of Corning; Dumb Money: How America’s Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation; and Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Decline and the Rise of a New Economy.

Gross was educated at Cornell University and holds an M.A. in American history from Harvard University. His great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Aleppo and Damascus. Follow @grossdm on Twitter

About the book

Who was Edmond J. Safra? “The greatest banker of his generation,” in the estimation of a former World Bank President. The founder of four massive financial institutions on three continents, and a proud child of Beirut’s Jewish quarter. An innovative avatar of fiancial globalization, and a faithful heir to a tradition of old-world banking. The leading champion and protector of the Sephardic diaspora.

In A Banker’s Journey, financial journalist and historian Daniel Gross, who, like Safra, traces his heritage to Aleppo, Syria, reconstructs the public life of an intensely private man. With exclusive access to Safra’s personal archives, Gross tracks the banker’s remarkable journey from Beirut to Milan, Sao Paulo, Geneva, and New York – to the pinnacle of global finance.

Edmond Safra was fifteen in 1947, when his father sent him to establish a presence in Milan, Italy. Fluent in six languages, and with an eye for value, managing risk, and personal potential, Safra was in perpetual motion until his tragic death in 1999. The modern, global financial empire he built was based on timeless principles: a banker must protect his depositors and avoid excessive leverage and risk. In an age of busts and bailouts, Safra posted remarkable returns while rarely suffering a credit loss.

From a young age, Safra assumed the mantle of leadership in the Syrian-Lebanese Jewish community, providing personal aid, supporting the communities that formed in exile, and championing Sephardic religious and educational efforts in Israel and around the world. Edmond J. Safra’s life of achievement in the twentieth century offers enduring lessons for those seeking to make their way in the twenty-first century. He inspired generations to make the world a better place.

Review

I kind of low-key love the fact the author manages to make biography about a financial wizard, a banker who influenced the world of finances, and left his mark upon the world, not only a learning experience – it’s also a fascinating read.

I think it’s important to note the relevance of the phrase old-school banking. It’s at the core of the story. In Safra’s case this compass was routed in cultural and historical roots – reputation, trust and relationships between banker and customer. This is a complete contradiction to the way banks are run in 21st century. Nameless faces, profit margin for the bank, and an absolute risqué attitude towards money belonging to other people, ergo customers. Deposits instead of loans. It is also the reason persistent rumours started to swirl or should I say the start of a campaign to discredit someone who had become a powerful fixture in the financial world – he was the root of the structure he created. 

I can’t even imagine being so that that you’re tasked with setting up banks as a teenager. It seems, so bizarre, especially when you look at young people today. Safra was a young man influenced by family structure, culture and events in history that displaced many people. It’s a tragedy that his live ended so brutally, and his death takes up a good part of the second half of the book. Why? Because it became fodder for conspiracy theorists, for gossipmongers and sensationalists, which the author addresses. He also takes those theories and misinformation and counters it with facts.

Saying that, I can absolutely understand why the world would believe he had become a victim of his success, power, wealth and core ethics of Safra banking. Equally I also understand that his family wants the world to remember the man behind the wall of myths and gossip – I think Edmond would want that too.

Buy A Banker’s Journey at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Radius Book Group; pub date 13th October 2022. Hardback – £24.99. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Arbitrage by Colette Kebell

It’s my turn on the BlogTour Arbitrage by Colette Kebell. It’s a fast-paced financial crime with a flashy, turbulent feel to it.

About the Author

Colette Kebell is an eclectic author, though a relatively new one and thus far has self-published her books. Her books are light-hearted, fun and quirky and even considered by some to be inspirational.

She publishes mostly for the English speaking market and the Italian one.  Colette Kebell does not stick to just one genre when writing though, as you shall discover from her latest book to be launched on 5th April 2019

As a career, Colette spent her later years as a legal secretary. After a first attempt at writing many years ago (a book that still remains in her drawer) she resumed this passion a few years back, after being made redundant.  After few book signing events and a book talk, which almost caused her to collapse with nerves, Colette now spends her time between her home in the UK and her home in France.

Colette has two adorable dogs and, when not writing and marketing her books, she likes cooking for herself and her husband, gardening or designing various items for their home.  Amongst her other hobbies, she has also experimented with furniture upholstery, and she might, from time to time, have a paintbrush in her hand.

Follow @ColetteKebell on Twitter, on Facebook, Visit colettekebell.com

Buy ArbitrageAbout the book

Ryan Logan thinks he has it all… A young attorney specialising in finance and tax law, Logan has earned an impressive reputation and commands a hefty fee for his services. But when he advises his corporate employers against a merger with a shady financial institution, he soon finds himself caught up in a web of betrayal and deceit. Framed for the murder of his wealthy boss, Logan is forced to accept a plea deal, to keep his own dark secrets from coming to light…

Arbitrage is a fast-paced, stand-alone financial thriller. If you like edge-of-your-seat suspense, sweet revenge, and twists and turns you won’t see coming, you’ll love this eye-opening look into the world of financial crime.

Can a burned out lawyer outwit an army of con artists and killers?

Review

The story starts with a violent collision between criminals and a man trying to out-steal the people who are ripping others off. Their reaction is volatile and fatal. Then the author takes us back in time to where the story within this story begins. Where the fate of certain people is already set in stone, as the events unfold that lead to Logan planning his revenge.

For me this is a story about a slow-burning and complex plot to get revenge. Pay back for a lost love, lost life and lots of lost time. Is there ever any kind of vengeance that can compensate for that?

The Amelia and Anders story took a bit of an unexpected turn towards the end. Superfluous to the plot, but an endearing extra just slid in there for the heck of it.

It’s fast-paced with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. It definitely has a flashy, turbulent feeling to it. Very bright lights big city meets tab-end flicking brutal gangsters..

It’s a financial thriller with a modern financial mob crime vibe. Financial crime has changed and perhaps become more of a reflection of our times than other criminal endeavours. The internet, the new inter-connectivity and the way financial crime is often the culmination of other layers of crime, is reflected in this story.

Buy Arbitrage at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Skittish Endeavours; pub date 5 April 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

The Spider Network by David Enrich

The Spider NetwrokEnrich has collaborated with and interviewed Tom Hayes quite extensively for this book. So it’s not surprising that the book is slightly slanted in his favour, especially when it comes to the mitigating circumstances for his actions.

Readers should note that Hayes launched an appeal against his conviction in January 2017, and his defence is built on the grounds that he believes he did not have a fair trial. In his previous trial the judge wouldn’t allow his Asperger’s diagnosis to be taken into account or presented. His expert witness argues that the Asperger’s syndrome would explain his inability to see his conduct as dishonest or that others could perceive his conduct to be dishonest.

It is also worth noting that Hayes wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until before his trial, so it kind of begs the question whether this is just a convenient excuse and/or basis for his diminished capacity of guilt defence.

Of course the other side of the coin is the fact that Hayes, his colleagues and indeed the entire financial industry functioned and worked in an environment with little or no restrictions or repercussions. Most of the dealings we now consider to be criminal were not considered to be so at the time they began using them. A perfect example of this is insider trading, which was once, not many decades ago. considered to be normal wink wink nudge nudge dealing between traders and brokers.

I think the Spider Network is an inside window into the world of big finance and the insidious nature of those at the top. The Libor rate is an easily manipulated money sucking scam created by rather greedy, but extremely clever men with masses of hypothetical money at their fingertips and no thought to the lives they might, and certainly did, destroy.

It has been noted that there are plenty of sociopaths in the world of big business and finance. They are capable of making ruthless decisions without being hindered by empathy and compassion. They don’t consider the moral implications or the little man at the bottom of the pyramid.

Whilst the story of who, how and what is fascinating it also important to remember all the people who have fallen prey to the Libor rate game of derivatives.

On a side note I would like to add that despite Enrich giving the reader an inkling of who Hayes was and is, especially in regards to his ASD and possible vulnerabilities, the picture isn’t complete. The complexity of the case against him and why he is appealing isn’t delved into as minutely. Enrich does leave one with food for thought though, especially if you think out of the box. Was Hayes really the spinning spider or just part of the silky web, which was considered disposable?

Buy The Spider Network at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.