SHORT-LISTED FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEAR
The term “Libor” is obscure, but it determines a good deal of our financial lives-the interest rate on our credit card; our student loans; our mortgages; our car payments. How did a math genius, a handful of outrageous confederates, and a deeply corrupt banking system conspire to pickpocket you? They were in your wallet to already.
In 2006, an oddball group of bankers, traders and brokers from some of the world’s largest financial institutions made a startling realization: Libor—the London interbank offered rate, which determines interest rates on trillions in loans worldwide—was set daily by a small group of easily manipulated functionaries.
Tom Hayes, a brilliant but troubled mathematician, became the lynchpin of a shadowy team that used hook and crook to take over the process and set rates that made them a fortune, no matter the cost to others. Among the motley crew was a French trader nicknamed “Gollum”; the broker “Abbo,” who liked to publicly strip naked when drinking; a Kazakh chicken farmer turned something short of financial whiz kid; an executive called “Clumpy” because of his patchwork hair loss; and a broker uncreatively nicknamed “Big Nose.” Eventually known as the “Spider Network,” Hayes’s circle generated untold riches —until it all unraveled in spectacularly vicious, backstabbing fashion.
Praised as reading “like a fast-paced John le Carré thriller” (New York Times), “compelling” (Washington Post) and “jaw-dropping” (Financial Times), The Spider Network is not only a rollicking account of the scam, but a provocative examination of a financial system that was warped and shady throughout.
Incredibly interesting read
I wasn’t aware of the LIBOR or it’s existence until a few years after I started working in investing, and by that point, it was being phased out. Reading about Tom Hayes and his story was definitely an Icarus type of arc. Personally, I think he got shafted a bit by the authorities and banking industry. But I guess every institution at some point needs to cut a finger to save the hand. Well researched book and well written. Would definitely recommend to anyone who wants to understand why the LIBOR came to be and ultimately, why it’s not used anymore.