PROPHECIES: Doom for Fun and Profit

A banker who can write is unusual enough. A banker who starts writing novels in jail, and transmutes global finance and oil politics into plausible thrillers about world economic collapse —well, there is only one: Paul Erdman. His third novel, The Crash of '79, is in its 25th week on the bestseller lists, has been bought by Paramount for a movie, and is diverting not only ordinary readers but also corporate executives and government officials, who assure each other that its forecast of doom will not come true. Certainly not. Of course not.

Nonetheless, what sets...

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