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“Light Reading” from an IMF Policy Review Division Chief

Atish Rex Ghosh, the Policy Review Division Chief within the the Policy Development section of the IMF released a fictional thriller titled “Nineteenth Street NW” in 2008. The title was cleverly chosen for the joint location of the IMF and World Bank. This book, combined with its addendum on the economics of the book, gives an inner view of world financial economics and sets up connections and theories on how financial tools can be manipulated for malum uses.

Atish Rex Ghosh is an international economist, who’s taught at Princeton and Georgetown, earned his MSc at Oxford in development economics, and studied at Harvard for his MA and PhD in economics. While he has been the author of several pieces on the hard science and mechanics of international economics, Nineteenth Street NW is one piece that is more on the theoretical side. The book uses a fictional thriller-storyline to illustrate the possibility of a terrorist-like attack on the financial markets.

Indeed even with the book being a fictional thriller, it has been reviewed as providing readers with a “rare glimpse into the mechanisms behind world economies.” Ghosh comments on the real economics and the very real dangers in an addendum to the mechanics described in this thriller on the book’s webpage. He discusses macro-economic state-actor actions such as the ability of countries (i.e. China) to dump mass amounts of U.S. Treasuries. While not necessarily a terrorist act – it can be just as harmful on a country’s currency and can thus be construed as such an act.

He then moves on to the speculative nature of capital markets and how if enough speculators are convinced of a certain notion (the attack), proliferated by a group bent on mischief, the attack would succeed. This is almost cyclical in nature – meaning the speculation and the specific attack causes the other to occur and continue. This type of downward spiral cycle as repeated by authors of financial crisis books, most notably “Thirteen Bankers” & “In Fed We Trust,” give further credit to convince the skeptical of this theoretical attack. The explanation also cites to specific examples such as the successful 1992 attack on the British Pound.

While I have only recently picked up the book and have not yet finished it, I highly recommend the read for the beginning reader on world financial economies and the mechanical interrelations of specific terrorist acts. The book provides this insight in a light and enjoyable “thriller-read” on your daily commute.

*To emphasize: The book is a fictional storlyine but does provide real-world insight on world economy mechanics and possible attacks. Please see the website for more info.


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