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The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History
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The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,623 ratings  ·  283 reviews
In 2006, an oddball group of bankers, traders and brokers from some of the largest financial institutions made a startling realization: Libor—the London interbank offered rate, which determines the interest rates on trillions in loans worldwide—was set daily by a small group of easily manipulated administrators, and that they could reap huge profits by nudging it fractions ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 21st 2017 by Custom House/Harper Collins
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Start your review of The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
A very cool research on a very space cadet issue that our modern world, no matter how sophisticated we think it be, was prone to at up until a very recent point. (And probably still is, I don't see this process becoming separate from judgement!)
Q: Spread out across time zones and continents, a group of bankers, brokers, and traders had tried to skew interest rates that served not only as the foundation of trillions of dollars of loans, but also as an essential vertebra of the financial system it
Athan Tolis
Yesterday, (April 6, 2017) the very same Southwark Crown Court that had previously sentenced Tom Hayes to 14 years in prison arrived at a very different decision in the case of his Barclays counterparts, Ryan Reich and Stylianos Contogoulas, making for some very poignant reading as I was finishing The Spider Network.

The argument David Enrich builds over 450 fact-packed pages could not be simpler: on both sides of the Atlantic the justice system is starved of both resources and expertise and has
Michael Johnston
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
The most disturbing thing about this book wasn't the fraud. It was the culture that incentivized and looked the other way while the fraud was committed. I lived in this world (the world of "Wall Street") for more than 20 years. I saw the culture from the inside and Enrich absolutely nailed what it felt like. Customers are dopes to be taken advantage of; human value is determined by how much money you make and ethical values are a sign of weakness. It is insidious and takes a toll on how one view ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ugly, ugly, ugly.....the underbelly of the finance world and the practices to make more and more money are revealed in this book by Wall Street Journal Finance Editor, David Enrich. And if not illegal, these practices certainly walk a very fine line.

Tom Hayes overheard some classmates at the University of Nottingham discussing trader internships available at the London offices of the Swiss bank, UBS. Hayes, a math genius who suffered from Aspergers Syndrome decided to look into it and was surpri
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
This is the true story of a young man, Tom Hayes, who may or may not have understood that manipulating stocks was wrong. He apparently had Asberger Syndrome and, with an ability to hyper focus, bordering on obsession, Hayes was out to achieve success by any means possible.

Why might he not have understood that manipulating a stock to go up or down to get people to invest or not is not ethical, moral, or even legal? Because apparently it was the norm for many stock brokers and investors. And with
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a story about how prosecutors bankers can go wrong. When the entire system is involved in corruption as was obvious with LIBOR and people find out about it and get mad, someone has to go down. Who do you pick? Usually someone vulnerable, sometimes that person was a particularly bad offender. This book pairs nicely with Black Edge where someone went to jail and the rest of the industry stayed put. There's a problem here with the system and people want bankers to pay, but do these criminal ...more
Anirvan Ghosh
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 h
Laura Spira
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Full disclosure: I didn't finish reading this book. As a business school academic, I've read a lot of the literature that has been spawned by financial scandals, in the hope of finding books to engage my students. Some authors - Michael Lewis, for example - manage to spin a really gripping story out of often unpromising material. The journalist David Enrich (an oddly resonant surname) doesn't pull it off.

The over-exuberant title gave me pause before I'd even started reading: when I requested the
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-econbiz
The Rest of the Story: Since this book's publication, the following related events have taken place:

– Libor will be phased out in 2021.
– Two Barclays traders acquitted of Libor-related charges in the UK. I believe these are the prosecutions mentioned in a footnote at Kindle location 7082.
– Two other traders, from Dutch Rabobank, had their US convictions overturned. The convictions are mentioned in this book at location 5917.
– Tom Hayes, the “Math Genius” of the title, has complained to police th
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the Libor scandal from an American investigative journalist lens.

The book charts the story of how the Libor rate - the London interbank lending rate that many variable-rate products such as credit cards depend on - was manipulated, thus affecting many unsuspecting individuals worldwide.

This is a book for those that don't have much understanding of the financial workings that underpin the financial sector, with simple-to-understand explanations and examples to illustrate th
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Usually anything financial confuses and bores me. While I admit to skimming though a good portion of the "financial" stuff, I did thoroughly enjoy the people part, the journey to exposure and the author's "novelish" approach. It also left me exhausted at the thought of the mountains of tedious research he wrangled into a superior read. In the end, I realized what I thought all along about the greedy money people is even worse.
Maciej Nowicki
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Spider Network is a great story of a math genius and a gang of backstabbing bankers. The book details one of the greatest scams in financial history. The author is David Enrich, a Wall Street Journal’s award-winning business reporter.

In a nutshell, the scandal involves something that very few non-financial people have heard of but is enormously important. It’s called LIBOR which is an acronym that stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate. This is a kind of international benchmark that re
May 08, 2018 marked it as physical_to-read_stack  ·  review of another edition
I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways
Tom Anichini
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
OK story, but much too long
Our local CFA chapter hosts a quarterly book club, and for this quarter we selected this book to discuss. Otherwise I would not have bothered to finish it.

The author told the story ably, just not concisely. I found his formula of heaping on backstory after backstory annoying. Was he hoping to emulate Michael Lewis? If so, I don't think he succeeded, because this book's backstories were mostly superfluous.

The whole time I was reading this I wondered how much shorter an
Sam Walker
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Spider Network is a bonafide thriller. It's the inside story of one of the most audacious bank heists of all time. But it's also a classic of muckraking journalism that exposes how insiders can manipulate the complexities of the global financial system to enrich themselves. On another level, it's a fascinating character study of a brilliant, complex and unpredictable man haunted by his own personal demons who, with a few keystrokes, could affect the lives of billions of people. It's rare to ...more
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story is amazing. Not only were trillions of dollars worth of loans based on a Libor, but enormous amounts of derivatives contracts as well. Yet, as it turns out, Libor was easily manipulated by the traders and brokers involved in trading these derivatives. While Enrich outlines how the scandal unfolded in amazingly fascinating detail, what I really loved were the characters. You really get a feel for everyone from the regulators to the traders. I particularly enjoyed the working class part ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Captivating. Read like fiction.
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
The overall plot wasn't all that "Wild", but the gang was rather backstabby. Not sure if I would have classified it as "One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History" either. It was another case of letting investment bankers be in control of a market metric that they could manipulate to some degree and then make bets on how things would be in the future (where they would try to manipulate the metric in their favor).

In this case the metric was Libor (London Inter-bank Offered Rate) or the avera
Cheryl M-M
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enrich has collaborated with and interviewed Tom Hayes quite extensively for this book. So it’s not surprising that the book is slightly slanted in his favour, especially when it comes to the mitigating circumstances for his actions.

Readers should note that Hayes launched an appeal against his conviction in January 2017, and his defence is built on the grounds that he believes he did not have a fair trial. In his previous trial the judge wouldn’t allow his Asperger’s diagnosis to be taken into a
Helen French
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating in-depth look at the people behind the Libor financial scandal. In particular it examines how Tom Hayes, one of the only people jailed for his part in the rate-rigging, came to be involved. Hayes, of course, is intent on appealing his sentence, so it remains to be seen if the outcome for him will change.

First up, it's important to note that I didn't know much of anything about trading, derivatives or Libor before I started this book. I'm also one of those readers who flushe
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who liked the movie "The Big Short" is sure to enjoy this read, written by Wall Street Journal writer David Enrich, which is the true story of how over a multi-year period actors across the financial system attempted to manipulate Libor (the London interbank offered rate). Managed by a British trade association and initially an obscure concept outside of the financial world, Libor had significant implications across the financial sphere in that it influenced banks' returns on interest rat ...more
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Addictive non-fiction that lets the reader take a look into a fascinating, complex scandal that spanned years and involved people right at the top of the banking industry. Enrich tells the story in minute detail, giving a real sense of exactly what was going on, making the most of the brilliant sources he had access to. It is narrative non-fiction, and the scene is set well. It reads so much like a story that I found
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biz
This is how its done. Get the inside source who spills his guts then shape a narrative around it. Tom Hayes went to jail for 14 years before that he dominated the Tokyo currency market. In order to dominate that he needed libor to go his way like so many traders in the currency / interest / credit world of the oughts. As banks did more prop trading and pushed risk the pressure to move libor got larger. Libor was subject to widespread manipulation since 1991. What Hays did differently is engange ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting examination into not only the LIBOR manipulation, and the trader/broker excesses and abuses written about in so many other books, but also the legal system and the way some of these crimes were prosecuted.

I came away with the distinct impression that Tom Hayes, while guilty of manipulation, was the fall guy, and whole lot of executives walked away when they shouldn't have. Did Hayes get the short end of the straw? I think so. His prosecution, conviction, and sentencing would make
Winston Ritson
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read the book. It breaks down in great details a single trader's rise and fall. It unpacks the some of the complexity around the LIBOR and other similar benchmarks.
The book occasionally gets lost in the absurd detail of the different protagonists' personal traits in an attempt to make them memorable. My one complaint about the storytelling is every few paragraphs the author crossed space and time to randomly pick up a new thread, it felt like trying to watch a movie with a 4 year on a sugar hig
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: gennonfiction
When I first saw the book I was actually kind of mad at how big it was. At 459 pages, it's easily twice the length of most books in its genre. But once I started reading I couldn't put it down. The author does a really good job of avoiding most of the tedious details and concentrating on the essential thread of the story.

It was also pretty revealing about the financial industry. I've read several books on the topic so I wasn't totally unaware, but what struck me was the extent that people in th
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a good book for all those in the financial markets - especially those that have dealt with, or read about LIBOR. At this point, there is are several investigations being undertaken on possible manipulation of LIBOR, a benchmark rate, by participating banks. The book explains how some of this happened, by tracing the life and career of a trader diagnosed with mild Asperger. The book shows how traders, brokers, and bankers involved in the scam were self-centered and let the trader (protago ...more
Yuen Tan
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating read ... only the 2nd book relating to financial crisis and scandals for me. Few good men or women in the stories - you will gleam the dark side of humanities - greed, self-serving, cold-blooded back stabbing of some very smart, incredibly wealthy and magnificently self-centered characters ... and they are real!

To some, this could be sensationalism of common myth about specific type of bankers. Being closer to some of these in real life, I will say the descriptions were inc
John Orr
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting read. This reminded me a lot of The Big Short. Despite the fact that the book was about fairly complex financial topics, I felt like I understood them well enough to enjoy the story. The author paints a vivid picture of the book's characters, who are as flawed and compelling as any group that you'd find in a fiction series. The topic of the book is complex, and involves a substantial number of organizations and individuals, acting at different points in time and often on diffe ...more
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a bunch of scammers! I think Enrich was smart to tell the story from the POV of a brilliant, arrogant and clueless mathematician. It's hard to call anyone "sympathetic" in this context, but you could understand why he couldn't see what he did was wrong -- he was just so intent winning in pure terms. (And he was clearly "on the spectrum.")

It was a little difficult to read just because of the subject matter, but Enrich did a wonderful job explaining what happened and why it mattered. The
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