Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your latest with us, Russell.
First things first, how’s the sparrow?
She has grown into a petty tyrant, ordering me about with constant demands for food, attention, cleaning, etc. And she doesn’t appreciate anything I do. I thought we had a relationship, a special bond, but she just takes me for granted and is emotionally unavailable when I need her. Sometimes I feel like she just wants me for my birdseed. Sniff.
A bit about SILVER JUSTICE, your newest release, please.
Silver Justice is a police procedural/thriller featuring an FBI agent – Silver Cassidy – who is running a task force that’s hunting a brutal serial killer targeting financial industry bigwigs inManhattan. It’s a departure for me, in that I envisioned a strong female protagonist, a single mom in her mid-30s, who can hold her own in a male-dominated career, while grappling with every sort of personal and professional adversity. It uses the circumstances surrounding the 2008 financial crisis as its backdrop, and I can guarantee the plot will shock and outrage many. It’s a controversial book that will challenge many perceptions of reality. For some, that will be uncomfortable. But it will entertain and likely make readers think. If it does, I did my job. One thing I can say with certainty is that certain segments of Wall Street and Washington will absolutely hate it with a passion, and I expect negative press for that reason.
I read your blog concerning what you’d learned while researching for SILVER JUSTICE. Agree 100% we should never have gotten off the gold standard. Do you see absolutely no alternative to another depression and U.S. debt default?
Most people don’t understand why the gold standard was important, or why the US was required to agree to stay on it when the dollar became the world’s reserve currency 1944 as a result of Bretton Woods. The world needed a currency that wouldn’t lose value over time, and that one could make contracts and agreements in with confidence. The dollar was selected, and in return, required to stay on the gold standard so there would be no fluctuation. That worked well, and the late forties through the sixties were a time of incredible prosperity as the war wounds were healed and international commerce prospered. You see, if you don’t have a standard, then any contracts that are made, or any trade entered into, has a huge amount of uncertainty to it, and it chills trade and commerce and growth everywhere. What will a dollar be worth in six months? A year? When the US was caught cheating by the French in 1971, and were redeeming their dollars for gold, as agreed, because they suspected the US had violated its agreement to print money for the Vietnam war, Nixon took the dollar off the standard, and all hell broke loose. It’s been ugly ever since. OPEC was a direct response to that. So was gold going from $36 an ounce to $350 an ounce over a few years. Up until 1971, a dollar was worth that same $36, whether in 1948 or 1968, soAmerica’s middle class prospered with no inflation and no drop in their buying power.
You know, I think that there is no alternative to another depression, because I believe that our current situation is 100% engineered, as was the Great Depression. Depressions don’t just happen. They are a function of monetary policy. In ’29, the stock market crashed, which was a function of rapid tightening of margin rates (requiring more cash to collateralize any stock positions on margin), which killed liquidity that had been fueling the bubble, along with the rumblings that the U.S.’ generations of relatively free trade were coming to an end with high protectionist tariffs – specifically the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Anyone with a brain could see if that passed imports would suddenly cost 40% more for Americans, and that our trading partners would reciprocate by imposing their own tariffs, resulting in an immediate slowdown. So when the floor votes showed it was going to pass, the crash started and continued. As you move into the depression, you find a litany of deliberate steps byRooseveltand the Fed to plunge the nation into a sustained depression, enabling it to confiscate private gold, devalue the dollar 40% overnight, throttle the amount of cash in the system by raising bank reserve requirements, and a host of other things.Rooseveltlost 3 Treasury Secretaries during the depression because they wouldn’t go along with his policies – they knew it would cause far more damage to the country. Interesting that the history books don’t tell that story. FDR was a man of the people in the books our government schools use to teach people “the truth.” Once you research it all, actual events were anything but like what we are told they were.
As to now, I believe that the US could be on a gold standard tomorrow. Simply peg the dollar to a number – say, $1700 an ounce – and then buy or sell treasuries to keep it pegged there. No need to have a ton of gold in Fort Knox. But it won’t happen, even though 99% of the planet would benefit from a stable reserve currency, because that would end the ability of the Fed to create money like it’s kleenex (and thereby create and pop bubbles of its own making – a good living if you know when they are going to happen and can trade ahead of it), and it would stop reckless spending by the government. If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that the deficit is now over 100% of GDP, and growing. Never mind the uncountable trillions of “off the books” liabilities like SS and Medicaid. Right now with interest rates at an effective near zero, the debt consumes about 23 cents of every dollar of tax revenues. If interest rates moved up a few percentage points to anything even remotely resembling historical norms, that would double. You wouldn’t be able to run the country. So either you would have to double effective taxes on everyone and everything, which would actually crush growth and result in less tax revenues overall (per the Laffer curve), or you would have to print a lot more money to make your interest payments, which is what countries like Zimbabwe did. So no, I don’t see a lot of positives now, however it might take decades to completely unwind. I think the US does the latter, and we see today’s dollar losing another 90% of its buying power over the next decade. All the while, the government will claim there’s no inflation, and that everything’s fine, of course.
It would all be over in a day if oil wasn’t valued in dollars. Nobody would use dollars if it wasn’t. But as long as we can invade or help overthrow any country proposing that oil be traded in gold backed dinars (like Iraq, Libya and Iran pushed for) we can ensure that our crap paper is still used as the world reserve currency, whether it’s a good idea or not. Although that’s coming apart too now -China and Russia recently agreed to stop using dollars on all their trade. That’s just the beginning. The dollar is too unstable and swings around too much to be a reserve currency – that’s the plain truth. We agreed to stay on the gold standard so it would be stable, but when Nixon was caught lying (what else is new) about our adherence to it, he took us off it, and since then the dollar has lost well over 90% of its value. I think that has to continue. And the losers will be the middle class. The rich own other assets and are smart. The poor will remain poor. But the middle class will be wiped out, which is what happened in the depression. There are no new ideas.
Sorry for the encyclopedic dissertation. It’s a fascinating topic for me.
No problem, it’s obviously something you’re passionate about and know well.
Did the 2008 financial crisis inspire SILVER JUSTICE or was the idea already brewing?
The idea to write a novel that was more than just a fun read had been stewing for a while, and as I researched the true reasons 2008 took place, it seemed ripe for a story. Silver Justice would never in a million years be released by a big publisher – it’s far too controversial and skirts too close to the truth for them. Powerful interests want to ensure that only their version of the truth is the one most are familiar with, so it would be buried before it was ever released. I do think that the end result, a novel with a Silence of the Lambs kind of story featuring a really fascinating female protagonist, but which uses current financial headlines as its overarching backdrop, is a viable one. I’ll be interested to see what readers think. Some will absolutely hate it, because it challenges perceptions of reality. I expect that. But I think more will love it. It’s one of my favorite efforts to date.
Do you plan any more books featuring Silver Cassidy, a series maybe?
Silver is so three dimensional, and has such depth, that she cries out for further adventures. I can absolutely see her in more books. She’s one of my most interesting characters – a single mom, ass-kicking FBI agent struggling to deal with a lot of catastrophic life issues even as she races to stop a savage serial killer. She could carry a lot more books.
Have you ever read Taylor Caldwell? She talked about a global “them” that controlled finance and governments. Can’t recall the title but it was set right before the beginning of the ’29 Crash and some time after.
Nope. But I’ll add it to my list. It’s not a new idea. The European banks controlled most of Europe for centuries, funding both sides in the constant wars that plagued it. If peace broke out, their agents would agitate for a conflict – because the governments would have to borrow to hire mercenaries to go fight, and to buy weapons, and fund the armies, and there was only one place to borrow. I think it’s only in the last century that the media has so successfully spun the story so that the notion that pecuniary interests were swaying things in their favor was kooky. Up until then, it was understood. Then again, up until then America was against the idea of a central bank, had no IRS, and hadn’t had a series of bubbles and crashes that enriched the banks and prominent families at the direct expense of the middle class. So times have changed, even if the basic idea hasn’t. There have always been those who get rich from misery and war and famine, and those who suffer. The names have just changed. It’s the history of the human race.
Who’s in control, you or the characters?
I start out by giving birth and plunging them into the story, but then the characters take over. It’s like being parent to a delinquent. You have all these aspirations and hopes, and then they just go and do whatever the hell they feel like. But that’s the process, and it’s fascinating once they find their wings and take flight.
Have they ever surprised you?
All the time. It’s part of the joy and wonder of what I get to do for a living.
Is there a character or book you’re more partial to or proudest of?
Boy, I love King of Swords and the Assassin series’ El Rey character, because he’s just so diabolical and bad. But I think my favorite still isAl Ross, from The Geronimo Breach. Hands down.
What’s your least favorite thing about writing?
Sitting in one place for 14 hours a day for weeks on end.
Your favorite thing about writing?
The joy of creation, and that moment where you get the language right and it sings. It’s really akin to flying, soaring through the sky, when you’re on.
Do you have a favorite book or author?
David FosterWallace. Infinite Jest.
Anything you care to share about what we can look forward to from you?
My next one is JET, about a female Mossad assassin who fakes her own death to get out of the game, but is being hunted by a death squad. She’s part La Femme Nikita, part Lisbeth Sanders, part SALT. That’s going to be a mile-a-minute race of an action novel. Looking forward to it.
Sounds like it!
Thanks heaps for taking the time to visit Manic Readers,Russell. Enjoyed it!
Visit Russell, you’re sure to find something interesting.