The Novelist Who Predicted the Currency War

I am halfway through a new novel that, while not a financial book, manages to satire the coming currency war in an incredibly prescient way.

The book is called Super Sad True Love Story and it was written by Gary Shteyngart.  If the name sounds familiar, he is the brilliant and hilarious writer who gave us Absurdistan a few years back, one of my favorite books of the last decade.

In SSTLS, Shteyngart introduces us to our own world a few years into the future.  The US dollar has been devalued (several times) and citizens keep up with the state of our decaying empire on CrisisNet, a news service available on the mobile devices that have become almost like actual human appendages.  The nation is seemingly held hostage while awaiting a visit from the Chinese Central Banker, a reviled figure who is essentially superior to our President.

Throughout the story, the protagonist and his associates discuss, obsess and worry about money – money that is either yuan-pegged or essentially worthless.

Men and women judge the prospects of potential mates by how much of their money is held in what currencies.  The desire and proclivity to spend money becomes the main driver of your social standing in Shteyngart’s satirical world.  “Credit poles” are positioned around the city to scan the mobile devices and display the financial situations of those who walk buy them.

The world that serves as backdrop to the story is like a hyper-satirical version of what many of us in finance already believe could be coming.  It is amazing to see a novelist take the headlines and hysteria from today’s news and extrapolate it so perfectly into a not-to-distant future that at once seems both plausible and obviously ridiculous.

I don’t know how he does it, but you simply must get this book and read it now – as it is possible that the first shots of the Currency War are already being fired.

Check it out here:

Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel

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