Robert P. Smith
Robert P. Smith is a financial pioneer, philanthropist and author.
Robert P. Smith of Turan Corporation, or Bob Smith, as he is known in among those who trade the debt of emerging market countries, is one of four people who "...significantly contributed to the birth of the debt market, and possibly even the entire emerging market investment community, well ahead of Wall Street's more prominent houses" according to financial author Peter Marber (Marber 1998). The other individuals cited by Marber in this context are Giacomo DeFillippis of Giadefi, J. Player Crosby: of Finamex: and Martin Schubert of Eurinam. These four individuals were pioneers in trading emerging market debt (EMD).
Robert P. Smith is the author of Riches Among the Ruins: Adventures in the Dark Corners of the Global Economy (Riches Among the Ruins website )(Amacom, March 2009), which details his more than 30 years' experience in emerging markets. Riches Among the Ruins chronicles Mr. Smith's time spent buying and selling high-risk securities in some of the most downtrodden economies in Latin America, Africa, Russia, Asia and the Middle East.
Robert Smith is also the model for the character “Sammy the Spread”, who deals in third-world debt (Emerging market debt), in John D. Spooner’s book Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around? (Spooner 2000 ). In the book, Spooner ladles out some of Sammy the Spread’s streetwise wisdom:
“People love to talk. I fell into my profession by accident, and then I had nothing to lose. Ask a lot of questions. If you meet a seller of debt, ask “Who else has called you?” for instance. Ask questions of your competitors and of your clients . “Who’s doing what to whom and for how much?” You’ll be amazed what people will tell you if you ask.”
Sammy/Bob Smith even provides dietary advice to travelers in the developing world:
“When you go to a third-world country, eat the same thing every meal. I’ve had great luck with tomato soup and spaghetti. Never try to eat gourmet in Lagos, for instance.”
Robert Lenzner, writing for Forbes Magazine (Lenzner 1993), compared Bob Smith to Indiana Jones:
"If Robert P. Smith didn't exist, Eric Ambler would have to invent him. One night in the early 1980s, an explosion shook the Sheraton in San Salvador. Awakened in his room five floors up, Smith was amazed at his good fortune-not simply that he was unhurt, but that the violence would keep his competitors out of El Salvador for a while"
Robert Smith is the founder and managing director of the Boston-based Turan Corporation:, which specializes in trading emerging market sovereign debt.
A graduate of Bowdoin College: and Boston University School of Law School:, Smith served as an economic officer for the State Department United States Agency for International Development (USAID): in Viet Nam, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. He later joined Deltec Bank of São Paulo, Brazil before returning to the United States in the mid-1970s where he established a law practice specializing in international debt collections.
Turan Corporation was founded as Turam (“Turkish-American”) Corporation in 1978, and soon became one of the largest privately held sovereign debt trading firms in the world. Peter Marber, the author of From Third World to World Class: The Future of Emerging Markets in the Global Economy (Marber 1998), credits Smith as one of four individuals who contributed "significantly to the birth of the debt market, and possibly even the entire emerging markets investment community, well ahead of Wall Street's more prominent houses."
Robert Smith is an authority on developing world debt and has been cited or quoted in numerous publications including The Providence Journal (Robert P. Smith: Chavez may implode on his very own, Jan. 29, 2009), The Wall Street Journal, Africa Economic Digest, The Financial Times, International Business, and various publications of Euromoney Publications of London. From 1986-88 he wrote a monthly column, “Blocked Currency,” for the Euromoney Treasury Report. Mr. Smith has addressed numerous professional groups on matters relating to emerging markets.
Robert Smith has served as a trustee of various nonprofit organizations, including the Roxbury Latin School:, Caribbean Central American Action:, Oxford Academy , the Fessenden School: and Plimoth Plantation:. He is a benefactor of the David Saul Smith Union: at Bowdoin College and the Robert P. Smith Art Center and Theater: at the Roxbury Latin School.
Robert Smith and his wife, Salwa, have two children and two grandchildren and reside in Boston and New York City.
- * Marber, P. (1998). From Third World To World Class. Perseus Books. Page 231. ISBN 0-7382-0066-2
- * Spooner, J.D. (2000). “Do You Want to Make Money or Would You Rather Fool Around. Adams Media Corporation. Pp v, 108-112. ISBN 1-58062-245-3
- * Lenzner, R.(1993-06-21), “Indiana Jones, meet Bob Smith”, Forbes Magazine