Damn Interesting
The Reconstruction of Ulysses S Grant
The Eponymous Mister Ponzi
Death by Derivatives
Foreign Exchange(s)

The New York Times
Fixing Wall Street’s Autopilot

The Secret Lives of America’s Migrant Farmworkers

All About Derivatives
All About High-Frequency Trading

Raleigh News & Observer & Chapel Hill Daily News
A Call of the Wild Ends Too Soon

The Eponymous Mr. Ponzi

The little-known story of an age-old scam… Published by Damn Interesting on September 2, 2019… Nobody knows who did it first. Swindlers have been pulling off the scam for centuries, paying existing investors with the deposits of new ones to create the illusion of an incredibly profitable investment opportunity. Before 1920, it was known as…

Death by Derivatives

How the opening of a Chicago canal in 1848 led to the birth of modern financial derivatives, and the early demise of some of the men who traded them… Published by Damn Interesting on November 21, 2017… In April of 1873, an unhappy man walked along Clark Street in downtown Chicago. His name was Aymar…

The Reconstruction of Ulysses S. Grant

How the beloved American Civil War general and two-term president failed at every attempt to make money. Except for one… Published by Damn Interesting on April 11, 2017… In the second half of the 19th century, few Americans were better known⁠—and revered⁠—than the man whose face looks out today from the $50 bill. Ulysses S.…

Foreign Exchange(s)

He made a name for himself organizing the world’s most important economic conference, only to have it tarnished by an outrageous accusation. Here’s my story of Harry Dexter White, published by Damn Interesting.

The Secret Lives of America’s Migrant Farmers

Published on Narratively on September 3, 2014… An innovative college program opens privileged young eyes to the million undocumented laborers who toil away in an invisible America. Story and photos by Michael Durbin… It’s early June at Camp Chestnut Ridge in Efland, North Carolina. Towering pines outside the dining hall are still dripping after a…

All About Derivatives

This is the book I couldn’t find when I started working with derivatives: A primer I could read on the train with just enough detail to cover the basics of what financial derivatives are all about, with emphasis on the basics–what they are, how they are used, and the risks of using them unwisely. Here’s…

All About High Frequency Trading

In this book I present HFT for what it is: the use of speed as a competitive advantage in the trading of financial securities. It can be used for purposes either beneficial and reasonable, or predatory and harmful. I hope my book promotes more of the former and much less of the latter. Here’s an…

Fixing Wall Street’s Autopilot

The New York Times Opinion Pages | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR By MICHAEL DURBIN MAY 7, 2010 Chapel Hill, N.C. ON Thursday afternoon, the Dow plunged 1,000 points within a few minutes, followed by an equally sudden recovery. We don’t know all the details about the drop, but it was almost certainly the result of computer or…

A Call of the Wild Ends Too Soon

The Chapel Hill News and Raleigh News & Observer, March 8, 2009… The reports a while back of an improbable cougar sighting in Chapel Hill reminded me of my own series of backyard encounters with a feral feline. Four years ago my family moved here from Chicago into the Oaks Villas, a tidy subdivision alongside…