Financial Fiction Review: ‘The Billion Dollar Sure Thing’ By Paul E. Erdman

Love financial fiction? So do I. And I review them for you!

In this post I’m reviewing…

The Billion Dollar Sure Thing by Paul E. Erdman

The purest form of financial fiction… one of the originals!

The Billion Dollar Sure Thing by Paul E. Erdman

OVERVIEW: The Billion Dollar Sure Thing is THE original financial fiction book! It’s set in the mid-1970’s when America’s currency (which had been decoupled from the gold standard) was facing devaluation. In spite of the decoupling from gold, the US currency was still the financial standard of the day. (That much is true). In the book, the US President is concerned that various European governments are grouping together to take control of the financial markets away from the US dollar, so the President takes a financial gamble to recouple the dollar to the gold standard. Along the way, several different groups from all over the world attempt to profit from the potential financial ripples that this change will create.

REVIEW: This book, written in 1973, is Paul E. Erdman’s first book. Erdman had worked in the financial industry for many years before this book was written, so it’s not surprising that his experience and knowledge comes through. The style is classic 1970’s fiction: I don’t just mean that the telephones require talking to operators or that gold is valued at $100 an ounce… I mean, it’s slightly racist, slightly misogynistic, everyone has a mustache, and there’s always a layer of cold war anti-Russian fear lingering on every page. Just like every other 1970’s work of fiction. If you can get past that, it’s a great financial fiction book. I read this book before — many years ago — and didn’t love it at the time; I just didn’t like the old school feeling of the book, plus I barely understood what was going on. Since then, I’ve spent nearly a decade in the financial industry (or closely associated with it) and have a stockbroker’s license and an MBA… and those things really help. haha

I’ll warn you, this book is actually pretty advanced, financially. Although the author does try to explain everything, there are times when some readers may wonder what’s going on if they’re not experienced with the financial markets. This book covers currency, FOREX, shorting, and futures trading, so it can be heavy reading if you’re not familiar with those things.

Like many books of the age (which always trumpet “soon to be a major motion picture!” across the cover), the book includes plenty of international intrigue. In this book, characters zip back and forth between many of the major financial centers and power centers of the world — Washington, New York, London, Zurich, Moscow, and Beirut — as they make deals with different groups (all of whom end up being an ethnic stereotype, a la 1970’s fiction).

But what makes this book a “pure” financial fiction (in my opinion) is that it’s not about murder (which a lot of financial fiction books include in order to ramp up the conflict in the book) but it’s really just about a lot of people trying to make A LOT of money. Period. So if that’s enough of a conflict to motivate you to read the book then you’ll love this book.

I loved the deep financial aspect of the book and the purity of the financial storyline. And as you can probably infer from my earlier comments, the book does feel dated in many ways… so make sure you read it with an understanding that it’s a slice of fiction written in a very different time. (In some ways that adds some context and authenticity to the book, even if it does get distracting).

FINANCIAL FICTION QUOTIENT: As I’ve said, this book is the granddaddy of financial fiction and the financial quotient is VERY high and fairly advanced.
Here’s a quote from page 210-211 of my copy of the book to give you an example:

“… in the foreign exchange department, the phones had just begun to light up. At eight forty-five twenty traders went into action simultaneously. The Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt was offering $25 million spot. The General Bank agreed to take them at the rate of 3.3015, the absolute floor price for the dollar, a level that had never been reached before. The Deutsche Bank accepted. The Credit Lyonaise in Paris offered $50 million. They did not like the price. They would come back in ten or fifteen minutes. The Banque do Bruxelles wanted to sell $35 million three months forward. The trader consulted Zimmerer. They decided to put a 5 percent discount on the forward dollar: they offered Brussels the corresponding rate of 3.136. They did not even hesitate but accepted immediately. Two minutes later the Bana Nazionale de Lavoro was offered the same rate on $50 million. They also accepted. The traders huddled with Zimmerer. The decided to drop the three months forward rate another full percent. Then came the break.”

That’s just one small example that is fairly easy to follow. There are many others. If you like that kind of thing, as I do, then you’ll enjoy the book.

SUMMARY: Eerdman’s work is financially solid and engaging, although there are times when his experience may outpace the reader’s ability to understand. And although the book is dated, it’s still a great story of big money. If you’re into financial fiction, you should read this book just because it started the whole thing.

Click here to check out Paul E. Erdman’s The Billion Dollar Sure Thing on Amazon.

Find more financial fiction reviews here.

Here’s how I would fix restarts in NASCAR

I love NASCAR. Actually, I love all motorsports (but who has time to watch them all???)

But for the past couple of years, restarts have been a problem in NASCAR — frustrating for drivers and for fans — and those problems to be getting worse.

Restarts explained

Currently, when the field needs to restart, cars line up in 2 rows (the lead car gets to choose whether to drive the bottom line or the top line). I’ve created a rough diagram to approximate how cars are lined up. In this example, the lead car has chosen the lower line…

restarts now

As the field of cars comes around to the start/finish line (the dotted line in the diagram above), the lead car is expected to lead everyone by accelerating first. They can do this in a space leading up to the start/finish line called “the restart zone”.

If the lead driver hasn’t accelerated and taken the lead by the start/finish line then everyone can go… but the lead car can accelerate at any point inside the restart zone.

Here’s why restarts are a problem

Sometimes the lead car can’t accelerate as fast as everyone else. Maybe they have old tires or they spin their tires on a dirty track or they have a mechanical problem or they miss a gear… whatever… there are times when they don’t accelerate, and sometimes they even actually slow down.

This puts the second car in a very awkward position. The second car needs to keep pace with the first car but can’t pull ahead… but there are times when it happens because the lead car doesn’t go.

In the past few races, we’ve seen this happen a couple of notable times.

In the past couple of races we’ve seen it happen at Chicagoland and at New Hampshire (off the top of my head), and I think there was one in Richmond as well.

NASCAR has on-the-spot video reviews and they’ll sometimes black flag a driver for starting too early… but they don’t always seem very consistent about their rulings (at least from my perspective).

Even drivers don’t like it (check out this great video of drivers voicing their concern).

NASCAR has doubled the restart zone but I don’t think that’s the solution either.

Here’s what I would do if I were in charge of NASCAR (which I’m most definitely not!)

I would put the first driver on the very front, with all other drivers in paired formation behind the lead driver. Like this…

restarts improved

And then I would make a rule that the lead driver’s rear bumper had to pass over the start/finish line before any other car’s front bumper.

  • This ensures that the lead car always controls the race
  • It forces the lead driver to make some strategic decisions about which line to race (and gives them a slight advantage by allowing them the option to race either line)
  • It also forces subsequent cars (i.e. cars 2 and 3) to hold back, but…
  • It gives those subsequent cars the ability to speed up strategically prior to the start/finish line (and potentially pass the lead driver right after the start/finish line… as long as the lead driver’s rear bumper passes the start/finish line before the subsequent cars’ front bumpers).

I think this will make for restarts that are clearer (less confusion) and more exciting (better strategy opportunities for the lead car and the cars in the second and third spots).

It’s not likely that we’ll see this change anytime soon. But if I were in charge of NASCAR, that’s a change I would make.

Secrets Of Business Mastery Podcast: The Future Of Copy

Aaron Hoos

It was my sincere privilege to be on this podcast with a great friend, client, and mentor — Mike Agugliaro.

Mike has an amazing story: he was a New Jersey electrician who struggled in his early business and nearly shut his business down before he made a big change: he started studying what makes other businesses successful and that was the catalyst that skyrocketed him from making less than $1 million a year to well over $28 million a year.

Today he is a force to be reckoned with in the home service industry and he still runs his home service business while also coaching other service business owners (electricians, plumbers, HVAC techs, etc.) to massive growth. He’s like a bad-ass Tony Robbins for the home service industry.

On his podcast, we talk about copywriting and sales funnels, including…

  • Identifying preferred customers
  • Empowering and disempowering words
  • Strategic copy
  • Dealing with objections

… and more.

Click here to listen to my interview with Mike Agugliaro about the future of copy

Want to interview me on your podcast? Click here to learn how to book me as a guest.

Speaking Of Wealth Podcast: Sales Copy With REI Focus

speaking-of-wealth-sales-copy-with-rei-focus

I was booked to to be interviewed by Jason Hartman, a real estate investing expert and a very prolific podcaster. By coincidence, we both ended up at the same conference just a week or two before our podcast interview. It was great to meet Jason in person and it actually helped us have a better podcast because we were more comfortable speaking together, plus he already knew a bit more about what I do.

In his podcast we talked about the importance of copywriting and sales funnels, particularly as they pertain to real estate investors.

Click here to listen to my interview with Jason Hartman about sales copy with an REI focus

Want to interview me on your podcast? Click here to learn how to book me as a guest.

I’m back from a whirlwind trip

Hey! Long time no blog.

I’ve been traveling for 10+ days — it was a crazy trip that was 50% vacation and 50% work. But with the volume of work I tried to do before I left, as well as all the catching up I’ve had to do in the past couple of days, I’ve been out of the picture for much longer.

Here’s what I did…

A few months ago, my buddy’s wife reached out to me via Facebook. My buddy’s name is also named Aaron; Aaron and I, along with a third guy named Brian, have been good friends since third grade. Well, we all turn 40 this year so Aaron’s wife was throwing him a surprise party and she wondered if I could make it a double surprise by flying back to Ontario for his party.

As luck would have it, I was traveling around that time anyway for a conference so I made plans to travel to Ontario first before I went on to my final destination in Dallas TX. I also arranged with Brian’s wife to surprise Brian as well.

I gotta tell you, I was pretty excited and it was not easy to keep all of this off of social media.

Anyway, on the 14th I flew to Toronto, rented a car, and drove to Brian’s house. It was great to surprise him. Then the next day Brian and I went to Aaron’s house for his surprise party and that was a blast too. On the 15th the three of us hung out again — pictured below. It was awesome seeing these guys; I haven’t seen Aaron in 5 years and I haven’t seen Brian in 7 years.

20150816_141446

That’s Brian to the left, me in the center, and Aaron on the right.

On the evening of the 15th, I said goodbye to those guys and drove about an hour east to Oshawa — the city where I was born and lived for several years as a child and then in my late teens. I hung out with some family, I saw some friends I haven’t seen in over a decade, and I also did some consulting work for a company that operates there.

On the 20th, I caught an early morning flight (barely!) and spent 8 hours in airplanes and airports, finally arriving in Dallas TX for a conference — The Secrets Of Successful Syndication conference put on by The Real Estate Guys. That conference was amazing… and also a total whirlwind. I was up early everyday and didn’t get to bed until late every night.

I was sure glad when my plane landed back in Winnipeg on Sunday night!

That 10 days was fun and exhausting. I had so much fun and learned a ton, too. This trip was one of the highlights of the year for me.

Now I’m back at my desk and although it’s not quite the whirlwind it has been, I’m excited to be back rocking out content for my clients.

Stay tuned for some really cool things I’ve got cooking in the next couple of weeks.