BOOK REVIEW - The Spider Network by David Enrich

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

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 flushes out half of all knowledge attained as soon as I finish a book. But I still enjoy the journey for some reason.

Enrich does well to make a difficult subject accessible. I wouldn't say it's an immediately compelling read. It's not a page turner, more of a slow burn of interestingness (I know words, me). There aren't twists and turns so much as a deepening of understanding, a realisation as the book goes on as to how many people were implicated in the scandal and how so many got off completely scot-free.

The author worked closely with Hayes, which I think makes Hayes somewhat sympathetic as a result, but only because you understand him more, not because he's painted as completely innocent. 

This is a man who may or may not be on the Asperger's Spectrum (and armchair diagnosis while reading a book would suggest he could be) but very clearly takes the wrong course of action for his own benefit, over and over again, steamrollering over friends and colleagues. I say friends - but of course he didn't have any genuine ones apart from his wife. 

Ultimately, it's the tale of a man who determined to earn as much as he could for both himself but also his bosses. His bosses authorised what he did multiple times. Firms fought over this man precisely because of what he did with Libor! He never stopped to think of the consequences but he also never hid what he did, not really. That's why there was so much evidence against him. He thought he was doing his job, because the sector is/was so corrupt that earning as much as you could any way you could, was his job. I don't exactly feel sorry for him, but he is obviously just one piece of the network manipulating Libor.

An enjoyable read, if you like complex stories about sectors you don't fully understand!