“The Fear Index” and “A Gentleman in Moscow”

Like many people in their 40s and 50s, I find myself saying the words “used to” a lot. I “used to” be able to break 80 on the golf course. I “used to” be a pretty good tennis player. I “used to” have a 32-inch waist. You get the idea.

I also “used to” read quite a lot—mostly novels for fun. In recent years, I have read less and less for pleasure and more and more for work. But a few weeks ago, I took my first extended vacation in several years and dedicated some time to reading for pleasure.

I started the book A Gentleman in Moscow, about a Russian aristocrat caught up in the Bolshevik Revolution and sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest in a Moscow hotel. The charming novel unfolds over 30 years, as Russia transforms itself at great human cost from a monarchy into the Soviet Union. The great storytelling combined with its relevance as we watch the war in Ukraine devastate so many lives was riveting. I couldn’t put it down.

Snow, Ice and a Banking Crisis

The day after I returned from my tropical vacation, I woke up to wind, snow, ice, and a banking crisis. Bank stocks were plummeting, and the bond market was more volatile than any time in my career save for the Great Financial Crisis (GFC). The two-year Treasury bond, guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury, with full taxing authority over a $23 trillion dollar economy, was whipping around like a penny stock.