Matthew Quirk is a former journalist for The Atlantic who spent five years reporting on crime, private military contractors, the opium trade, terrorism prosecutions, and international gangs before moving on to the more entertaining terrain of thriller writing. James Patterson described his debut novel, The 500, as “The Firm goes to Washington, only with a whole lot more action.” His second novel, The Directive, is quite possibly the world’s first monetary policy thriller. A bank heist caper where the objective has nothing to do with anything in any vault.
THAT’S ACTUALLY HOW THE GOVERNMENT PRINTS MONEY AND EXPANDS AND CONTRACTS THE MONETARY SUPPLY
In an interview conducted in mid-June, Quirk spoke to me about insider trading, break-ins, and the real source of security vulnerabilities in the modern American workplace.
The transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Matthew Yglesias: How did you start thinking of the idea of doing a heist around economic data?
Matthew Quirk: I was casting about for the biggest hoards of money in the world, and you get to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York fairly quickly. But that’s been done. Then I learned more and more about the trading desk, and my mind was blown.
You get to have this great line where you say, “There’s $300 billion worth of gold in the basement, but the real money is on the ninth floor.”
Yglesias: The Federal Reserve is in the news a lot, but people would be surprised to learn what’s actually going on up there, right?