By Daniel Perez
With advanced degrees in philosophy and economics from some of the UK’s most prestigious universities, it’s fair to consider Jeremy Josse an eminent scholar on the philosophy of finance. But with more than 20 years of experience as an executive with major multinational firms like Schroder’s, Rothschild, and Citigroup, Josse is no less interested in the practical aspects of the field. Who better to provide an alternative take on the complex, contradictory, and paradoxical world of high finance?
In his new book, Dinosaur Derivatives and Other Trades, Josse employs a multidisciplinary approach to explain the basic philosophical notions that make a complex, robust economy possible, with all its legal fictions and hypothetical instruments of exchange. A proud member of the Jewish community, Mr. Josse even draws a few lessons from the Bible and the writings of rabbinic commentators. As a seasoned financial analyst and corporate leader, Josse’s exploration of stories such as Joseph’s rise to prominence as “Treasury Secretary” of ancient Egypt offers novel insights for secular and religious readers alike.
Although written for a general audience, there is something unmistakably Jewish in Josse’s writing. Dinosaur Derivatives is vibrant and intellectually stimulating in a way that should be familiar to those who’ve ever spent time reading and analyzing traditional Jewish texts, yet it is accessible to readers from all backgrounds and walks of life.
“It is fair to say that finance is a serious matter, whereas riddles are often frivolous,” the author maintains. “Money, on the other hand, can be very superficial, whereas philosophical puzzles are profound.” It is this duality that lies at the core of Mr. Josse’s book. And the philosophical tension that results fuels illuminating discussions of a wide range of topics—such as the meaning of “value,” the infinite ways in which a contract can be interpreted, the ancient laws of usury (a popular subject in the realm of Judaic studies), and the many failings of our current regulatory system.
Josse’s book also delves into the psychology of banking and finance, positing the existence of “white-collar psychopaths” and explaining how, just as our innermost thoughts are hidden, so are the laws of economics. He also provides alternative perspectives on several financial crises, including the 2007–2008 housing-market crash. When he isn’t putting his own twist on teachings from Judeo-Christian canon, Mr. Josse is drawing lessons from great works of Western literature or crafting modern-day parables of his own.
“Our objective is to journey over the metaphorical financial rainbow,” explains Josse, “or perhaps go with Alice and explore the other side of the financial looking glass.” Dinosaur Derivatives and Other Trades does precisely that. And while it has something for everyone, it has a little something extra for the Jewish reader.
Daniel Perez is a freelance writer and consultant based in New York City. His work has appeared in dozens of Jewish media outlets, including The Jewish Press, Ami Magazine, and Israel’s Arutz Sheva. Mr. Perez can be reached at Daniel@PerezConsulting.org.