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

Custom House. Mar. 2017. 528p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780062452986. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062453006. CRIME
What is a recipe for financial scandal? Take a flawed international interest-setting mechanism, add a culture of greed, lax supervision, and an outlier trader. In Enrich's (financial enterprise editor, Wall Street Journal) book, the prep time is long, but the final result is worth the wait. Proceeding chronologically, this volume introduces rogue trader Tom Hayes as a child in England. Proficient in math but socially awkward, he found work with a bank, then jumped to a succession of larger institutions. Many were willing to overlook his character issues and ethics violations since he often turned a profit their way, and Enrich does an excellent job of portraying Hayes's skewed values, his confederates, and their employers. When discovered, Hayes shouldered the blame and went to prison; others went free. Per the author, many were at fault, but the banks and regulators preferred a simple narrative to cover their own lapses. This book benefits greatly from the author's interviews with the principals and access to court transcripts. While not as exciting as Sheelah Kolhatkar's Black Edge, about Wall Street insider trading, this is an important work in light of the current debate about financial regulation.
VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in how a massive financial scandal concocted by oddball traders unraveled.
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