PAPER GOLD by Michael Goodkin


Email this review


In this improbable, unlikable account of an abortive attempt at an epic financial scam, David Fails, a young South African investment counselor, seeks to avenge the murder of his father (an architect of apartheid) at the hands of a black terrorist paid and trained by agents of Libya's Colonel Qadhafi. Having ingratiated himself with the Arab revolutionary, Faris devises a sting designed to drain Tripoli's treasury of the gold acquired with petrorevenues. How so? By convincing the Muslim strongman to short bullion, using commodity futures contracts at a time when market fundamentals virtually guarantee disastrous results. Meanwhile, Aaron Goldsmith, a Harry Oppenheimer-like industrialist, moves in on little David's intrigue, seeking to neutralize Qadhafi's plans for a pan-Islamic alliance that would menace Israel as well as advance the cause of his Soviet cronies in southern Africa. Finally, however, the conspiracy comes a cropper when US regulatory authorities change the ground rules for futures trading in the face of a near silver corner (by Bunker Hunt and affluent Arab accomplices) which threatens the integrity of the dollar: the instant slump in silver breaks the price of bullion, and Goldsmith feels obliged to liquidate not only his long-side contracts but also David. Laboriously contrived and equipped with a faceless (yet unsympathetic) hero, this offers little to readers looking for more than an anecdote-sized imaginary fiscal scenario. And even savvy finance types may be disappointed--since financier Goodkin seems oddly unfamiliar with the reality of limit moves and short sales on commodity exchanges. Of distinctly limited appeal.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1981
Publisher: Macmillan