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Erin Arvedlund is an author and financial writer specializing in Wall Street, capital markets and investigative reporting.She is a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and a contributor to Barron’s magazine. She got her start working for Dow Jones News Wires in 1993, then moved to The Moscow Times in the former Soviet Union in 1996, where she wrote about the emerging markets and oil and gas industries. In 1998 she joined TheStreet.com, one of the first real-time online news blogs covering Wall Street, and then to Barron’s magazine in 2000 where she covered options, mutual and hedge funds and public companies. From 2003 to 2005 she worked again in Moscow, this time for The New York Times as a business correspondent and contract writer out of the Moscow bureau. She also worked on Wall Street from 2006 to 2008 at Sanford C. Bernstein, a unit of AllianceBernstein, before authoring the definitive book on Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff (“Too Good to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff), published by Penguin in 2009. In 2014, she authored “Open Secret” about the London-based circle of traders conspiring to rig interest rates before and after the 2008 financial crisis.

She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, an attorney, and a rotating cast of cats, currently including Girlfriend and McManus. She can be reached at: erinarvedlund@yahoo.com.

For events, contact Esmond Harmsworth at literary agency Aevitas: 

eharmsworth@aevitascreative.com

545 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
Direct: (617) 262 0059

11 responses

  1. Hi Erin:

    Congratulations on your book on Madoff. I’m mentioning it on our website today (Nov. 8) which is http://www.odwyerpr.com. I’ve been in the NYFWA nearly 50 years after initial reporting for the NY Journal-American and Chicago Tribune.

    Here’s today’s blog. Please call me at 646/843-2090 or e-mail me. I would like to talk to you for quote or on background. This is a big issue in PR as well as journalism. The story on our site has your picture, that of Diana and an image of Cassandra plus the front cover of your book.

    Jack

    Frustrated Reporters Must Learn from PR.
    A panel titled “Financial Journalism under Fire” was one long hue and cry by journalists who say they discover scandals but find their stories are ignored.
    One panelist suggested they give themselves a “Cassandra Award” named after the Greek god who was able to predict disasters but could find no one who would believe her.
    “Exhibit A” in the journalists’ tale of woe was the “outing” of mega thief Bernie Madoff by Erin Arvedlund in Barron’s in 2001.
    She checked with option traders who said Madoff could not possibly get the results he was reporting.
    Arvedlund’s major piece, the result of months on the story, ran May 7, 2001 under the title “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (highlighting the secrecy that marked the Madoff operations).
    “There was no reaction,” she moaned, adding, “I wish I had followed up…I wish I had proceeded further.”
    She then expressed sympathy for the people who lost billions (total was about $65 billion), saying further stories by her might have prevented it.
    Kandel Calls for Follow-Up
    Moderator Myron Kandel, former CNN financial editor, said it was not enough for journalists to expect action just because they wrote a story that appeared on the front page of a major medium.
    Arvedlund should have pressed her case with SEC commissioners and gone over their heads to the legislative and executive branches of the government, he said.
    Kandel is on the right track.
    Reporters can learn a lot from PR pros, many of whom have switched from just “getting ink” to getting “results” or “outcomes,” as they also call it.
    Arvedlund should have asked herself, “What is my goal?” The goal was to save investors from being bilked out of billions.
    She and her editors should have called a press conference. Barron’s should have shared its research with other media.
    Big companies, many of them fierce competitors, often band together in trade associations to push their causes.
    They not only work via their trade associations but create “coalitions of coalitions” in Washington, D.C.
    Avredlund’s “trade association” was the New York Financial Writers Assn., which Kandel headed in 1986-87.
    She should have made speeches to financial and general audiences and tried to obtain time on TV and radio.
    She could have become a “Joan of Arc” dedicated to leading the financial reporting press corps. She could have sought the help of a PR firm.
    One panelist noted that editors rarely let a reporter concentrate on one story to the exclusion of others.
    Kandel said failure to follow up on stories and seek action was a major flaw of financial journalism.
    As evidence that financial journalism mostly failed in warning about financial abuses he noted that no Pulitzer Prizes were awarded for financial journalism in 2008-09.
    Henriques Cites Cassandra
    Diana Henriques, NYT senior financial writer who is writing a book about Madoff, asked, “What do you do when what you report is ignored?
    “Remember who Cassandra was,” she said. “She was able to predict disasters but no one would believe her. What is the appropriate media response when a story like Erin’s and other fine stories…are ignored by policymakers and lawmakers…at what point does the subject for criticism become a dead horse…you keep saying it over and over again?”
    Kandel noted at the beginning of the panel, which took place April 30, 2009 at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (and which we just discovered) http://www.nyfwa.org/education.htm that good stories “were rarely followed up.”
    He said reporters incorrectly believe that people are going to read their stories and “do something.”
    Markopolos Was Ignored
    He noted that financial fraud investigator Harry Markopolos complained to the SEC for years about Madoff and was ignored.
    Markopolos called the SEC a “captive of the industry it regulates that is afraid of bringing big cases against the largest and most powerful firms.”
    He said that as he dug into Madoff’s affairs he began to fear for his life because he was convinced that Russian mobsters and Latin American drug cartels were Madoff clients.
    Avrelund’s article focused on the wall of secrecy around Madoff. After months of compiling details about him, she finally caught up to him on a “scratchy international telephone line” while he was traveling on a boat in Switzerland. He wouldn’t go into “details” and did not tell her “anything of note.”
    Avrelund talked to more than 100 people in researching Madoff but fewer than five had ever met him.
    Reporters Lack Knowledge
    Jon Friedman, MarketWatch.com columnist, said many financial reporters were lacking in basic knowledge about such financial instruments as credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations.
    Kandel asked those in the audience how many were familiar with such devices and only a few raised their hands.
    Sal Nuccio, a life active member of the NYFWA who has written on insurance for the NYT, said the credit default swaps were actually insurance used as a gambling device and the CDOs had “no backing whatever,” providing a “false sense of security.”
    Markets were doing so well that no one wanted to look too closely at what was happening, he said.
    There was agreement that financial news is not a hot topic with TV producers.
    One producer told Susan Lisovicz, CNN stock market correspondent, “We know financial news is important but try not to make it seem like medicine.”

    November 8, 2010 at 3:45 pm

  2. Erin,

    Last September you wrote about the SEC investigation of Vision Capital Advisors related to their potential overvaluation of the warrants in PIPE deals. Have there been any further developments? Has the SEC filed charges? Have any of the investors sued yet?

    Tom Watts

    September 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    • Tom– thanks for asking! Reuters has been following the story closely, and no charges yet. however, the SEC does still have an investigation pending. what’s your interest in vision?

      September 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

  3. anonim

    How can i write u an email? I don’t want to post anything here…

    December 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm

  4. Lars Carlsson

    Dear Erin,
    I have some comments about your book, I am impressed, Specially by the interviews on ABC,
    but, I have some comments, you miss some obvious conclusions,
    I am also planning to write a book about my life, which I will pay for myself and my need your help, rather interesting, I was a long time in Iran, now I have been living in Hong Kong for 16 years.
    Best regrds,
    Lars

    April 30, 2012 at 9:30 am

  5. Lars Carlsson

    Dear Erin,
    Thanks for swift reply.
    I lost your direct email,
    But I I believe all is a major fraud involving many US people/entties,
    I have stuff for a new book about Madoff plus myself, Markopouols is a guy from kindergardten comparde to me,
    I will pay all your expenseves, and airticket, to come to Hong Kong to meet with me for a couple of days,
    I am Swedish (by the way, your name must be Norwegian),
    Lars

    May 1, 2012 at 10:09 am

    • Lars– my last name is Danish. my grandfather grew up in Korsor.

      August 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  6. don frazer

    Howdy Ma’am:

    Just wanted to drop a line and say I read your book years ago and very much like it. I’ve since read approx. 15 books on Madoff, even received an email from Andrew Madoff, shortly afterwards, sorry to hear of his passing. I live in small town Western Canada and have always had a fascination with American Corporate fraud, also Canadian scams, however USA scams are enormous and amazes me how so many scams can go undetected, and of course shakes the entire world. What a story, trying to get a copy of a documentary that was just made “In god we trust, can’t find it anywhere, any idea how I can get a copy of it, in Canada?

    Good work on the book, Very good, recommended it many times.

    June 21, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    • thanks Don. yes i think it’s online, the documentary? did you try IMDB.com?

      June 23, 2015 at 9:23 pm

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