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

David Enrich

2017


Another exploration of the financial crisis, this time the manipulation of Libor by a group of bankers: one can't really call them a cartel or gang, I think, as that implies a conspiracy and direction that was absent. And that's what makes the story so interesting to me: that a group of individuals essentially self-organised by looking to their own interests into a collective defrauding of most of the Western world.

And they were so unaware! – not simply in the sense of defending themselves, but in their inability to see beyond the horizons of the "game" of finance, to the fact that they weren't living in a closed universe where their actions lacked wider implications. The protagonist is clearly clinically Aspergic, but one has to wonder to what extent all the players had somehow managed to shut off their peripheral vision.

I think the story also has implications for regulation that have been raised before: how do you deter people who don't believe their actions are criminal? It's not that they don't think they'll be caught: it's that they don't see they've anything to be caught for, and that strokes at the heart of a lot of regulation. The fact that society falls on them post facto might be somewhat satisfying, but it doesn't prevent recurrence, not least because none of the more senior players face meaningful sanction. There are still a lot of crises to come until ww come to terms with this.

Finished on Sat, 11 Nov 2017 04:25:34 -0800.   Rating 4/5.