The Story Behind Black Fridays
BLACK FRIDAYS is a thriller – the story of one man standing against a system that too often allows corruption to go unpunished, and risking his life in the process. It is set against the background of current day Wall Street, a milieu I know well.
I came out of an MBA program and went to work in the foreign exchange markets. The sums that traded in the blink of an eye were mind-boggling, and the margins were tiny. A $100 million trade might net the firm only a few thousand dollars in profit. There were cowboys and sharks, pirates and whales – being a character seemed to be more important to the game than your analytical skills. Gifting and entertaining were treated casually. Brokers had only recently been warned not to lease expensive sports cars for their clients to drive. It was not quite what business school had trained me for.
Near the end of my career – now a Managing Director working in the bond markets — I picked up the Wall Street Journal and read a story about dozens of traders in the foreign exchange market having been arrested for fraud and embezzlement in a federal crackdown code-named “Wooden Nickel.” I ran my eye down the list of names. I had known some of them. I was sad, but not surprised. The temptations are always present. I realized that there was a story to tell.
BLACK FRIDAYS is my re-telling of that story. What I hope I have gotten across is more than the picture of greed on Wall Street. That story is an old one. I want readers to understand just how easy it is to slip. How the culture of frat-house humor, mega-expense accounts, and trillions of dollars zipping around instantaneously combines in a hallucinogenic mix that can twist the most disciplined mind. The surprise is not that it happens, but that it happens so rarely.
BLACK FRIDAYS is also a father and son story, only in the case of Jason and the Kid, the limits, demands and rewards are a bit different. The stakes are higher. Jason has little experience being responsible for anyone else on the planet and the Kid demands so much more. The issue of autism is fascinating to me, not only because multiple members of my extended family are dealing with it in their own lives, but because of the very nature of the condition. How does the brain really work? How do we perceive the universe around us? Why does a nappy towel feel like fire? Why does the Kid have to wear black on Friday? I don’t know, but I do know what happens if he doesn’t. Jason’s musings on the subject are very much my own.
This book has been described as a financial thriller with heart – and I gladly accept that description. But it is that ‘heart’ that makes the work important for me, and I hope, of lasting interest to the reader. When I sit down to work, I look forward to what my characters will reveal to me that day. I hope you do as well.