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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

Custom House,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The Libor scandal grew from a web of fraud that offers shocking insights into the life of a market trader.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening
  • For Experts


Financial journalist David Enrich tells the true story of British trader Tom Hayes and his part in “the spider network” that fueled the infamous Libor scandal. The saga offers an unflattering exposé of the world of financial market traders and investment bankers. Enrich provides a visceral taste of what it’s like to work in finance, painting such a vivid picture of the incentives and the environment that you’ll almost feel sorry for the “carnivorous,” bonus-chasing, seemingly amoral bankers. Enrich shows that the trading culture abetted Hayes, who’s now in prison, and saved his bank bosses and associates – none of whom served a day in jail. Even if you don’t come to this tale already dubious about the trading activities of large investment banks, you will be plenty skeptical by its end.



The acronym “Libor” stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate, a daily updated metric intended to represent the level of current interest rates that lenders use to price loans and other instruments. Innumerable financial products and contracts refer to Libor because it’s a practical, general alternative to national base rates set by central banks. Even tiny movements in Libor can affect billions of dollars worth of mortgages, derivatives, credit cards, car loans and corporate financing. Although Libor is a City of London invention, financial markets around the world use it as a basis for their pricing decisions.

Libor’s importance expanded during the 1990s with the growth of trading in derivatives. Derivative contracts must include a standard by which to represent the underlying cost of borrowing. Nonfinancial companies use derivatives as tools to hedge against the impact of changing interest rates on their businesses. But derivatives are also perfect...

About the Author

Now finance editor at The New York TimesDavid Enrich was the financial enterprise editor and European banking editor of The Wall Street Journal. He won the 2016 Gerald Loeb Award for his coverage of the Tom Hayes scandal. 

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