Monday, November 15, 2010

Rox Ghosh's Nineteenth Street NW

I read Rex Ghosh's Nineteenth Street NW, which is a financial thriller and perfect for a long trip.  The plot revolves around a group of people from an unnamed developing country who use both violence and a sophisticated plan to bring down the economies of the developed world.  Ghosh himself has an Economics Ph.D. from Harvard and has worked with international financial institutions.

The plot is very well paced, but the book has the added benefit of going into issues like how economists at the IMF view countries as sources of analysis, unconcerned about the effects their policies have on average people.  They disguise the policies with terms like "fiscal retrenchment" and "labor market flexibility," and are concerned mainly with academic publications.  On the flip side, he also examines the mindset of terrorists who are fighting against those policies, but with similar disregard for human life.  The main character wants to use economics rather than bombs because she does not want to kill anyone, but ultimately it is clear this is a cop out.

The book also has an afterword where Ghosh explains the economics behind the action in the book, and how the economies of developed countries are very vulnerable in a number of different ways.  Attacking the economy can actually be far more devastating than a bomb.


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