Book Review

Rollercoaster tells the story of the rise and fall of the emerging markets. Starting with a spot of currency trouble in Bangkok in 1997, the panic spread across Asia, Russia and then Latin America.

For 10 years money men (and women) drooled over less developed capital markets which threatened big risks but had the lure of big rewards. But when investors saw the Thai baht start to plummet, “[they] started to worry whether it was such a good idea to keep their money in South Korea or Malaysia”, writes the book’s author Gill Tudor. “Pretty soon they were nervous about Russia, or South Africa, or Argentina – or anywhere that didn’t look like a nice, safe bet. Not so much emerging markets as submerging markets,” she jokes.

In Asia, the crisis plunged nearly 100 million people into the kind of poverty not seen for 30 years. In Russia, there was unrest on the streets and fears that a political vacuum would ensue. And in the UK and other developed countries, jobs were disappearing as Asian manufacturers shut down factories.

Tudor reported on the 1997-99 crisis first hand for Reuters as a London-based emerging markets correspondent and has covered developing countries for more than a decade, both as a reporter and as a political and economic analyst for an independent think-tank.

Her experience is evident and the book is as wellwritten as it is illuminating. Isaac Tabor, chief economist of emerging markets at WestLB, says: “No stone is left unturned. Rollercoaster is equally interesting to the policy-maker, economist, market practitioner and the occasional investor.”

Rollercoaster analyses the effects of globalisation and the economic transition that was made when the Iron Curtain was drawn and world trade became a reality.

Full of imagery and vocabulary which draws the reader in, it conveys the crisis and sense of urgency convincingly. It is a compelling read which explores the complexities and fragility of a market based on speculation or a “bubble of confidence” just waiting to burst.