Robert P. Smith

Robert P. SmithWhen Robert Smith began trading sovereign debt in the late 1970s, it was the Wild West of financing, a high stakes game played with the currency of countries teetering on the economic brink—an industry that is now worth $1.7 trillion a year.  Long before the internet made the values of these obscure securities readily available, Smith plied the murky markets of the third world, getting rich from a combination of savvy, ingenuity, luck, and a whole lot of persistence.

In Riches Among the Ruins, written with Peter Zheutlin, Smith takes us from his early adventures in Guatemala and Turkey (including selling the letter ‘m’ for half a million dollars) to post-Soviet Russia, where he lost—and more than regained—a fortune, to dangerous places like Nigeria, where he earned the title “King of the Jungle Bonds,” and  post-invasion Iraq.

Robert P. SmithDespite the fact that Smith’s stories center on little known financial instruments, you won’t need an economics degree to enjoy the adventures that led Forbes to dub Smith a “financial Indiana Jones.” Riches Among the Ruins is a book that is as much about people as it is about money, and the personalities are as outsized as the sums being traded.

Publishers Weekly called Riches Among the Ruins “a gripping read” and said Smith’s “yarns of successes, failures, and dangerous near-misses are thrilling.” ForeWord Magazine concurred, writing, “this crackling good yarn about a high roller in the age of globalism will appeal to financial specialists and to general readers.”

Smith has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, both local and national, and online at He also writes regularly for the Providence Journal, applying the lessons learned from his decades trading sovereign debt to the crises of contemporary international finance. Smith is online at, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (RichRuins).

By Caroline Patton

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