Billions and Billions

Can Finance Ever Be Truly Fascinating?

I’ve been binge-watching Showtime’s in house series, Billions. with Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis. For my money it’s the best thing on TV. Of course I’m an accounting and finance geek, so there is probably a lot of stuff in it that appeals to me but leaves people who are easily bored with such matters cold.

I know they’re out there. Econophobics. The kind of people who get a headache when conversation turns to interest rate swaps or in-substance defeasance of advance refunding bond issues. In fact, I’m pretty sure our president is one, but he has people for that stuff. (Not that he would ever listen to them.) I can’t say it’s their fault. I mean, really, that’s pretty arcane territory for anyone but a financial savant.

An econophobic reviewed A Cup of Pending recently, and took exception to the “especially tedious explication of money laundering, shady business loans, credit card terminal leases, and page after page of lead-footed narration.”  To be fair to myself I should point out that all this seemingly endless explication took place in approximately 8 pages out of a total of 302. Further, the guy who said that read and reviewed 4 complete books, mine included, in a single 24 hour period. He must have been bogged down by my economic tedium for all of 10 seconds. No wonder he got pissy about it! No one else has ever mentioned it.

Personally I enjoyed writing that section of the book. I thought it was essential to the narrative, and I went out of my way to make it resonate with regular folk. Now admittedly, I have spent a lot of time in my life wading through federal income tax code, so maybe I’m not a good judge of a normal reader’s level of fascination with such things. Still, I can’t apologize for my background. I’m doing the best I can in spite of it.

Anyway, I quite like Billions. I think it’s smart and stylish and does an excellent job of immersing the viewers in the rarefied atmosphere of high-stakes hedge fun investing. It also shows just how precarious our banking and finance systems can be and how they are mostly rigged to reward a handful of players by loading the risks on the rest of us.

I recommend it to your attention. If nothing else, it will make you think twice before you cut any moral slack to guys who take home tens of millions in bonus compensation for cheating the rest of us out of our pensions and 401Ks.

I try always to be interesting and entertaining. I know you’ve got important things to do with your time, so if I’m going to bid for your attention I’d better make it worth your while. If you think I’ve succeeded, please share this post with your friends by clicking on one or all of the social media buttons below. You’ll help me grow my audience and maybe even set me on course to make billions of my own. I promise not to dye myself orange and run for president.


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