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‘The Prince of Risk’ and financial thrillers

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Author Christopher Reich is a master of what’s called the “financial thriller”: Books that focus on the economy and the financial markets as important characters. Reich’s latest is “The Prince of Risk,” where main character Bobby Astor, a successful hedge-fund manager, is the son of the chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) or the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) may not be the most exciting topic to read about, but you might change your mind when Astor’s father is murdered — along with the Treasury Secretary and Chairman of the Fed — after Astor places a billion-dollar bet on the market. 

Interview Highlights:

On why Reich wrote the novel:

“I love this world of stratospheric high-finance where you know bets are not for millions, but for billions of dollars, and so much can hang in the balance on one decision on which way the market will turn.”

On what’s changed from when the Reich used to be a stock broker and the present age:

“When I first got my MBA and became a stock-broker and then worked in mergers and acquisitions, most of the trading was done or large portion by the simple consumer. Now it’s really dominated, and I’m talking about trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NASDAQ and exchanges all over the world by hedge-funds, private-equity firms and institutional investors. Us simple consumers who have hundred or two hundred shares of IBM, we’re kind of on the side really just having to watch without much influence on which way the market is gonna go.”

On why the author modeled the novel after the 2008 Mumbai attacks in India:

“…five years ago 15 attackers, hardly trained at all with machine guns [and] poor cell phones, went in, landed by boat and basically paralyzed a sixteen-million person city, the city of Mumbai, brought it to an economic standstill for three days and sadly killed about 200 people, burned down a hotel. But it took only 16 people to wreak untold billions of dollars of economic havoc. And I explored this and say how can this happen in a city like New York … “The Prince of Risk” is looking at what might happen if a foreign government threw investments in our financial system in private-equity firms and hedge-funds was able to manipulate events to their advantage and it’s very very scary. We are very vulnerable.”

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