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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

By David Enrich
13-minute read
Audio available
The Spider Network: The Wild Story of a Math Genius, a Gang of Backstabbing Bankers, and One of the Greatest Scams in Financial History by David Enrich

The Spider Network (2017) tells the fascinating story of Tom Hayes, the man who took the fall for the banking industry’s secret habit of manipulating interest rates. It’s a tale of what happens when traders, brokers and bank executives are allowed to operate without oversight.

  • Traders, brokers and anyone interested in the stock market
  • Investors hoping to avoid getting fleeced
  • Fans of a good corporate crime story

David Enrich is the Financial Enterprise Editor for the Wall Street Journal, where he leads a team of investigative journalists. His reporting has won a number of awards, including the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award for his work on the Libor scandal, which he expanded into his book, The Spider Network.

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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

By David Enrich
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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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 by David Enrich
Synopsis

The Spider Network (2017) tells the fascinating story of Tom Hayes, the man who took the fall for the banking industry’s secret habit of manipulating interest rates. It’s a tale of what happens when traders, brokers and bank executives are allowed to operate without oversight.

Key idea 1 of 8

Tom Hayes was always good with numbers, but he had trouble making friends.

Even as a child, Tom Hayes had a knack for numbers and knew how to cut a favorable deal.

In 1995, when he was just 15 years old and living in Winchester, England, Hayes lent his lunch money to a friend with a 50-percent interest rate. This way, for every five pounds he loaned out, Hayes would earn himself a nice profit of £2.50.

Around this time, he also became fascinated with the slot machines that could be found at local pubs. Hayes would watch one intently, figure out its pattern and always jump in at the right time to win a payout.

Unfortunately, Hayes’s mathematical ingenuity seemed to come at a cost, as he was always bad at socializing and making friends.

During his days at school, Hayes was bullied for his tendency to dress quite neatly, with a sharp blazer.

Lacking a positive male role model didn’t help matters, either. After cheating on his mom, Hayes’s father left the picture quite early on.

But the reason Hayes struggled with relationships was likely a mild and undiagnosed form of Asperger's.

All the symptoms were there: He could focus intensely on complex mathematical problems, he always avoided making eye contact and when he was upset, he could snap into a fit of rage.

What comforted Hayes was the reliable logic of math, and that’s what drew him toward the stock market.

In 1999, while at the University of Nottingham, he interned at UBS, an international Swiss bank, and learned some of the basics of trading stocks and bonds. From there, Hayes became hooked on the intricate world of finance and, in the fall of 2001, landed a permanent job at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

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