Paul Erdman

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Paul Erdman
Paul Emil Erdman

May 19, 1932
DiedApril 23, 2007 (aged 74)
Alma materGeorgetown University
University of Basel (Ph.D)

Paul Emil Erdman was a Canadian-born American economist and banker who became known for writing novels based on monetary trends and international finance.

Early life[edit]

Erdman was born in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, on 19 May 1932 to American parents.[1] He graduated from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He received his PhD from the University of Basel in Switzerland. In 1958 he worked as a financial analyst for the European Coal and Steel Community. Between 1959 and 1961, he worked as an economist at the SRI International in Menlo Park, California.

Banking career[edit]

Erdman returned to Switzerland where, in 1965, he founded and was the president of the Salik Bank. In 1969, First Interstate Bancorp bought a majority stake and renamed it the United California Bank in Basel.[2] The bank collapsed after taking large losses speculating in the cocoa market. Erdman and other board members were accused of fraud and mismanagement. Erdman spent 10 months in solitary confinement without being charged before being released on a $133,000 bail bond in 1971.[3] Erdman skipped out on the bail[3] and flew to England, later returning to the United States. Several officers of the bank were convicted and served prison terms. Erdman was convicted and given a sentence of nine years in absentia.[4]

Writing fiction (and non-fiction)[edit]

During his time in prison, Erdman occupied his time by writing fiction including the first 60 pages of his novel, The Billion Dollar Sure Thing.[3][5] It received a 1974 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best First Novel and was published in the UK as The Billion Dollar Killing. His second novel, The Silver Bears (1974) was turned into a 1978 movie of nearly the same name, starring Michael Caine. His best-selling novels are credited with the invention of the "financial thriller" genre.[6] Additionally, the information in The Swiss Account is credited with providing a basis for helping track down the assets of Jewish victims of the Holocaust.[6]

Erdman also regularly wrote financial columns for MarketWatch. He was a leading expert in the international economics field and published non-fictional works, such as Tug of War, which set out his views on exchange rates and the international financial system.

Personal life[edit]

Erdman was married to Helly Boeglin and they had two daughters. After the collapse of the Swiss bank, they moved to England and later Northern California. Erdman died from cancer at his ranch in Healdsburg, California on April 23, 2007.[4]

Selected works[edit]

  • The Billion Dollar Sure Thing (1973)
  • The Silver Bears (1974)
  • The Crash Of '79 (1976)
  • The Last Days Of America (1981)
  • The Panic Of '89 (1986)
  • The Palace (1987)
  • What's Next? (1988)
  • The Swiss Account (1992)
  • Zero Coupon (1993)
  • The Set-up (1997)


  1. ^ Obituary: Paul Erdman -- expert economist and prolific writer San Francisco Chronicle April 24, 2007
  2. ^ Smith, Adam (4 September 1972). "How My Swiss Bank Blew $40 Million And Went Broke". New York Magazine: 23–32.
  3. ^ a b c Allen, Henry (23 October 1979). "Paul Erdman, After the Crash". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b Fox, Margalit (25 April 2007). "Paul Erdman, 74, Author of Finance-Based Novels, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  5. ^ Obituary: Paul Erdman - Economist and banker turned inventor of the 'fi-fi' thriller The Guardian June 8, 2007
  6. ^ a b Obituary: Paul Erdman - Banker, economist and writer who found fame by inventing a literary genre the financial thriller The Times April 30, 2007