The trader writer: in finance I sought social redemption. My wife Caterina Balivo knows how to be light while remaining a thick person. I forbid my children to play video games and I require them to study no more than an hour and a half a day
The man who wrote i Devils
, both the best seller and the TV series now in its second season on Sky in 160 countries, and which, of finance, has told unscrupulousness and even murders, receives me in the luxurious meeting room of the asset management and private banking company he founded as a boy . The feeling is from an interview at the crime scene. White shirt, tight tie, barely grizzled curls, Guido Maria Brera somewhat reminiscent of the “devil” Patrick Dempseyand yet it is also the same person who narrated the ferocity of globalization by writing with Edoardo Nesi Everything is shattered and dancingor who wrote a novel about a rider named Candido who is so vexed that it makes me want to hug him.
I thought he was just writing instead?
“I had sold the company and, for a while, I was undecided whether to return or not. In the end, I never disconnected because finance is a wonderful tool for understanding the present and intuiting the future. I always take a thousand notes because writing helps me to understand better, then declining the notes into investments or novels is the same ».
How different was the 29-year-old who was about to found Kairos in London from today?
“He was a boy with a double life: during the day, in a suit and tie; in the evening, he put on a red overalls and went to Brother Ettore to assist the homeless at the Milan station. That friar was gruff but wonderful: if there are saints, they must be like him. One evening, he made me kneel and entrusted me to the Madonna. He said: take care of him. I did not understand anything, I know that the next day, two colleagues who will become my partners, Paolo Basilico and Roberto Condulmari, told me: there would be a new thing to do, it will be called Kairos. I moved to London instantly. I tell it to say that, at the time, I was not afraid of anything, I was very strong. Now, I feel fragile ».
«I am impressed by this world so fast, where so many people are unlucky, they go to the hospital, they are under bombs. Or perhaps fragility comes from further away: when my mother gave birth to me, she had just lost her mother after an illness and the fear of the suffering of others has always belonged to me. Now I have a foundation, but I would like the balance I had when I was young to volunteer in the field ».
So, volunteering wasn’t a form of atonement because, as a trader, you blatantly earned so much?
“I was wondering. However, there was also something else that I still can’t understand today. The kids go out, they go to the disco: things I’ve always hated. I still ask myself: who was I? ».
To the writer Teresa Ciabatti, in «Io Donna», he said he was a loser.
“Teresa also complains that I forgot her at a party. Perhaps you are also right. ”
I stayed in Ciabatti who confesses to having been in love with her, and rejected at the age of 13.
“Basically, I took care of her: she demanded attention for disappointments, bitterness and even in good times. While, if there is something about me, she disappears, but I adore her as a sister and I will always forgive her ».
He didn’t answer me: when he was a boy he was a loser?
“I thought I was, a lot. In retrospect, however, my group was alive, cultured. We trained on movies, it went out Dear Diary and we went to see Pasolini’s monument and to bathe at dawn in Ostia. We were real. Perhaps courageous ».
However, that wasn’t how he felt.
«I was from South Rome. From San Saba. A very normal family, a father who worked in a bank, a stay-at-home mother. And there was the myth of the Parioli, of Northern Rome, where everyone was more elegant, spoke a more beautiful Roman, walked better. In the end, I sought social redemption in finance, which is a very merit-based job ».
Had he desired her, sought her out?
«Far from it. I wanted to be a researcher, I love to write, read, study, but there was no place at university and finance is a sort of living organism that selects talents, comes to look for you, mince you, decide whether to cheer you up or down. In Fineco, they gave me a fund to manage which turned out to be the first in Italy, and so finance brought me up ».
First billion lire?
“Why are you asking me?”
Because the protagonist of “Resistere is useless”, with which Walter Siti won the Witch and who is inspired by her, to celebrate the first billion, bought a Berkel sliced ham.
“I’ve made good money, but I’m not as rich as you might think. As a young man, in fact, the salaries of finance are high: when I passed from Milan to London, I added a zero. But our career is like that of a football player: short and parable. Of course, at the beginning, I took off some whims, including that very expensive slicer ».
Siti looked for her to read up on her novel and then what?
“Our friendship grew out of a strong mutual distrust, but Walter had such low expectations that it was easy to beat them. After that, I was also his best man at the wedding ».
You are married to the TV presenter Caterina Balivo, what unites you?
«I love her being able to be light while remaining a person of depth. You help me by using two weapons: sensitivity and the ability to play down ».
You have two children aged 9 and 4 and she caused a sensation by saying that children should not be taught Chinese, but how to drive a tractor.
«The times are proving me right: the energy, food and climate crisis show that we need a return to the earth. I banned my children from playing video games and forced them to study no more than an hour and a half: afterwards, they do outdoor activities. They must learn to study in a short time because life will ask to know how to do everything quickly ».
In “Devils 2” what did he want to tell?
«The bet, won, was to identify the moment when everything was breaking down, that is the beginning of these new times. What we see today, pandemic and war, is the light of a star that had already gone out: the war came when globalization was broken and when it was realized that the political exchange in which low-cost goods were given but they took away workers’ rights was no longer convenient. For years, we deluded ourselves that we were rich because we could buy T-shirts for two euros. Populism, which I do not agree with, has however exposed this trap. In 2016 in which he lives this season, the system breaks down, there is Brexit, Trump arrives … ».
What is the “Thirteenth floor” of the “Devils”?
«The metaphor of a kind of compensation fund. If there is globalization, where do you face global problems? In national parliaments? No. I imagined, staying away from conspiracy, a group of financiers, corporations, rating agencies, which in the total absence of politics try to guide the transition between pandemic, climate change, digital revolution … ».
Is there a man who inspired his protagonists more than others?
“Larry Summers, former US Treasury Secretary, one who has always given the line, but made important mistakes: he promoted globalization, supported the abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act which was followed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers. .. Now, however, Summers is back Keynesian, criticizes austerity, calls for public investment. For years, I had been asking and hoping that the era of unbridled liberalism would end, which is why I wrote for Solferino Tell me what you see from there, where I started looking for the ghost of Federico Caffè, our greatest Keynesian. And the amazing thing is that, as I was writing it, my own ghost is being searched for by devils. On Summers there was a heated debate in the Devils’ collective: some condemn him for what he was a liberalist, I prefer to see a man who has changed his mind and who has put himself on the right side of history ».
What will happen the day Summers discovers that he has inspired the villain in a series about financial devils?
“He should be introduced to Patrick Dempsey, who is from Maine, while he was dean of Harvard: they are not born far away. But that character is surprising because, in the end, he is positive ».
Positive in what?
«I explained it to Patrick like this: I was inspired by Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor, who says: if I leave men free, chaos is created. His Dominic Morgan carries the burden of excessive freedom given by politics which, in the last 30 years, has withdrawn from the arena, with the left allied with the center and oblivious to social rights ».
What effect does Alessandro Borghi have on you in the role of Massimo Ruggero inspired by you as a young man?
“A huge gift. It was conceived with a pencil, the transition to the PC was very slow. And now, when I see him backpacking, it seems incredible to me. And it is striking to see Patrick and Alessandro together off the set … They emanate something with which we are born: charisma ».
In your years as a trader, what excited you and what made you suffer?
«If you ask a trader“ why do you do this job ”, the answer will always be: why I want to be right. In this answer there is everything ».
To be right.
«It’s a challenge: you buy one sells, who is right? Finance requires you to understand the slightest wind cut, the spark that changes the course of things. And you have to get there before the algorithm. It made me shake my hands and feel the ants on my face, because you want to be in control and the hardest thing is to know when you are wrong. So, for a quarter of an hour, to clear your mind, you look at a goldfish and you look like an idiot. In fact, I stopped looking at goldfish. Today I play ping pong. But it works better to put the head under water at two meters, in apnea, but it is not a remedy at hand ».
Every day like this: how can you resist?
“You must have an emergency exit. For me, the writing, the podcasts I produce with Chora Media, the collective, the possibility of not getting bored without finance. And it is important to be able to look at the sea: happiness in front of the sea is a simple idea “.
April 25, 2022 (change April 26, 2022 | 08:00)
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