Although it is hard to conceive of matches as “new technology” today, in the early twentieth century that is exactly what safety matches were. Ivar Kreuger found a way to turn that technology into a business monopoly, and then turn that monopoly into an unprecedented financial scandal.

In many ways this book parallels The Smartest Guys in the Room, Bethany McLean’s account of Enron. The specific similarities include:

  • Using shell companies to hide money for a rainy day (p. 50)
  • Mark-to-market accounting (p. 53)
  • Moving subsidiary debts off the balance sheet (p. 78-79)

These two books pair nicely and should be read together or in close succession.