Book Review: Waffle Street

by: David Merkel, CFA

Imagine that you had a privileged position analyzing mortgage securities, only to see your world blow up as the prices of residential real estate began to fall across the US. You have now been fired. You’re young, with a beautiful wife, and your first baby on the way. Now what do you do?

You take a job at a local Waffle House. Waffle House is a quirky comfort food purveyor stretching across the South, and rural areas of the US. Living outside Baltimore, the nearest one to me is 30 miles west.

The author goes through indoctrination, and since Waffle House restaurants are open 24/7, he gets the night shift, and has to deal with all of the kooks.

That makes the book all the more entertaining. In my younger years, I ran the night shift for three years inside convenience stores in major cities. I met my share of nuts during those times. If you haven’t been there, serving those who are up during the night, you don’t understand that they are different, a little off, compared to those that are working when the sun shines.

The book alternates between the nuttiness of a bright guy serving nuts and the lower classes, and him explaining how the economy works. An odd formula for a book, but he makes it work.

I recommend the book, and I write this as one who was skeptical of the book when the PR flack asked me if I wanted it.


The comment on page 238 that an insurance company is a hedge fund in drag is utterly wrong. Hedge funds have short liability structures, and often go out of business because they lose money, and investors leave them. Insurance companies have longer liability structures, and they survive many situations that would otherwise kill a hedge fund.

Who would benefit from this book: Most investors would benefit from this book. It entertains, and distributes knowledge casually, as if one were taking bites out of waffles. If you want to, you can buy it here: Waffle Street: The Confession and Rehabilitation of a Financier.

Disclosure: The publisher asked if I wanted the book. I said “yes” and he sent it to me.