Weekend Reading /

Tellimer's essential reading (and listening) recommendations for the holidays

  • We have assembled a list of books and podcasts that changed how the team at Tellimer look at the world

  • From the 'Big Cycle' dynamics that drive the fortunes of nations to a 1930s thriller, we hope you enjoy our selection

  • We wish all our readers a happy holiday season and a peaceful and healthy end to the year

Tellimer's essential reading (and listening) recommendations for the holidays
Tellimer Research
24 December 2022
Published byTellimer Research

As we noted in our recent Global Themes, 2022 has been the year of the permacrisis, but this festive season could be the time to take stock and reflect on what 2023 will bring. It could also be an opportunity to settle down with a good thought-provoking book or podcast...

We asked the team at Tellimer to suggest titles that have changed the way they think – here is a list to mull on, spanning fiction, history, politics, economics, business and the nitty gritty of debt restructuring law. We hope you enjoy it.

Our team's top books...

Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed or Fail by Ray Dalio analyses the “Big Cycle” dynamics that drive the rise and fall of nations over time, giving a refreshingly pragmatic perspective on what could otherwise be an overly complex and academic topic. This one is for the truly 'long term' investors. Patrick Curran 

Churchill by Andrew Roberts. Despite its well-known subject and historical perspective, this feels like a timely book to read, with British politics at odds with itself and a war raging in Europe. Many books have been written on the life of Winston Churchill, and I thought that Roy Jenkins’ biography, written 20 years ago, would be hard to beat. However, Roberts skilfully provides a window into the thinking, personality and political adventures of Churchill throughout his life, with an inevitable focus on his time as UK prime minister during WWII. He does so in a way that humanises Churchill – for good and bad – in a manner prior biographers have not, all through his prodigious attention to primary sources. A great work of history as well as biography. Duncan Wales 

Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Twentieth Century by J. Bradford DeLong tells the story of global economic progress from 1870-2010, providing a rich historical perspective of the key events, people and ideologies that have shaped our global economy today and the challenges that we still face in our quest for a more perfect society. Patrick Curran

Fed Up! by Colin Lancaster tells the story of a global macro trader working during the Covid-19 crisis. It includes fascinating insights into his daily activities as well as the panics his team faced trying to ride the volatile market. Joe Olashugba

Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology by Chris Miller is a timely account of the battle for control of semiconductor technology, an incredibly complex issue of national importance for the US and China alike and that has become one of the key battlegrounds in the 'East vs. West' fight for supremacy. Patrick Curran

Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins portrays how greed for money and power can cause one country to exploit others and rob natural resources, and guide politics. He gives an account of his own experience of working for a private international consulting firm that advised the World Bank to fund loans for developing countries worldwide, and what he witnessed in his time there. Mustafa Paracha

The Bond King: How One Man Made a Market, Built an Empire, and Lost it All by Mary Childs is a fascinating and incredibly entertaining account of the rise and fall of Bill Gross and his role in shaping the bond market as we know it today. Patrick Curran

Global Macro Trading by Greg Gliner brings global macro trading down to earth for individual and professional traders, investors and asset managers. It’s a useful handbook for the world of global macro and depicts the various ways in which funds trade it, from different strategies to performances benchmarked against one another. Joe Olashugba 

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore. As the world looks aghast at the chaos and bloodshed in Ukraine, it is worth trying to understand the origins of modern Russian political and military attitudes. Both the UK Ministry of Defence and US DoD have observed that the mentality and tactics of the Russian army have barely changed from those of their Soviet predecessors. One has the impression that Sebag Montefiore is a Russophile, but he is cold and empirical about how the Georgian radical Joseph Dzhugashvili (later known as Stalin) created the dictatorial, untrusting, suspicious (if not downright paranoid) mentality of the Soviet Union. A chilling reminder of what political power can do to people. Duncan Wales

The Inheritors: An Intimate Portrait of South Africa’s Racial Reckoning by Eve Fairbanks tells the stories of three South Africans as they reckon with their roles in pre-Apartheid South Africa and how to move forward as individuals and a society after its demise. An eye-opening narrative account of the incredibly complex issue of race in South Africa. Patrick Curran

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby. A witty autobiographical book written in the 1950s by a former wartime SAS soldier, who worked in fashion after the War and, tiring of the job, travelled with a friend to climb mountains in Nuristan, at the top of Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush. Newby is funny, interesting and modest while writing about the beauty, splendour and cultural complexity of that part of the world, and his sometimes strained relationship with his companion. Hidden in all that is the fact they were the first people to climb some formidable peaks, unsupported. For anyone who has spent time in Central Asia, Afghanistan or even the far North of Pakistan, it will ring a number of bells. And definitely for any mountaineers. A fun festive read. Duncan Wales

Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer is the story of how Israel reinvented itself as an economy – it now has more startups listed on Nasdaq than South Korea, Singapore, India and all of Europe combined. It's an important read for policy makers, investors and analysts who want to understand the strategies Israel implemented to become a nation of smart entrepreneurs. Dhruv Madia

Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household. Lastly, for those who appreciate a thriller, Rogue Male is a controversial and thought-provoking novel written in the first person from the perspective of a mysterious protagonist. At one level, it is a spy adventure, set in the 1930s, where most of the violence and brutality is implied and left to the imagination of the reader; on another level, it is a story of survival, personal loss and humanity. Household creates a brooding sense of tension that does not drop. I have never met anyone who has read this who has not, at least partially, wondered what they would have done in the same situation. Duncan Wales

...and three podcasts

Fat Leonard by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright is a nine-part podcast that documents the egregious corruption scandal surrounding US Navy maintenance contracts. Two ex-Wall Street Journal reporters managed to get the main protagonist, Malaysian national Leonard Glen Francis, to divulge the details of how deeply he penetrated into the higher command of the Navy (having ships redirected to ports where he could charge more for maintenance services) and how basic were his enticements (sex and money). This may whet your appetite for the podcast series by the same duo that details the 1MDB scandal and the near implosion of the Spanish monarchy under King Juan Carlos. One theme that recurs is that the personality types that attain positions of power and responsibility may also be those susceptible to some of the most base vices (vanity and lust). The story of Fat Leonard also shows how the largest instances of corruption in emerging markets usually require participants from developed markets, except that, this time, the developed markets are the source of the gain, not the venue for its laundering. The media company founded by Hope and Wright, Project Brazen, is also an interesting example of how independent content creation can flourish commercially; a revolution in which Scriber.to, founded by the same team behind Tellimer Insights, is playing a part. Hasnain Malik

Clauses & Controversies by Mitu Gulati and Mark Weidemaier is a podcast where two of the leading academics in the field of sovereign debt restructuring law explore the irregularities and oddities present in many of today’s sovereign bond contracts. Topics have included a deep dive on 'funky' bond clauses in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Ghana, which are especially timely given imminent distress in the former and recent defaults in the latter, and have been cited in our own research on these countries. Patrick Curran

Sovereign Debt with Jill Dauchy takes a slightly more generalist look at the sovereign debt landscape through the eyes of an industry practitioner, including interviews with many prominent guests on a wide range of topics related to sovereign debt, ranging from the IMF's lending policies and debt sustainability analysis (DSA) reforms, Chinese lending in emerging markets, climate- and ESG-linked financing, and other trends and hot topics in the emerging markets sovereign debt industry. Patrick Curran