The Spider Network The Wild Story

Review :

This is a great work of journalism that reads like a thriller. I enjoyed it all the more because I had previously read David Enrich's reporting on Tom Hayes and his trial in the Wall Street Journal two years ago.

Here's the central question: if a trader rigs Libor - the rate that determines your mortgage payments and credit card bills - would you blame him or his bosses who expect that of him, or the system where everyone who can is rigging it to make millons

What Tom Hayes did was wrong, but he was made a scapegoat while the people who rewarded him for rigging Libor rates went scot-free. Everyone who colluded with him turned around when investigators closed in and threw Hayes under the bus. The saddest part is that Hayes, a mathematical prodigy and one of the best financial traders, never realized that people he thought of as friends would not hesitate to turn on him.

That doesn't mean what he did was right (a lot more of that in the book), but it does force us to question the measures taken by governments after the 2008 financial crisis. Banks paid a lot in fines, but almost all of its top brass not just escaped jail but made millions off the crisis. Something similar happened with the Libor rigging scam, where Hayes was portrayed as the ring leader of a vast criminal conspiracy when in reality he was one among many mid-level traders and brokers who were actively working to rig Libor.

This book is definitely one of the best works of investigative business journalism, in the same league as "Barbarians at the Gate" or "Den of Thieves". And thanks to Enrich's excellent writing, you don't even need to know a word of financial jargon to understand it.


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