The Libor scandal, which broke in 2012, confirmed people's worst suspicions about big banks and a system "in which manipulation was not just possible but inevitable." In The Fix: How Bankers Lied, Cheated and Colluded to Rig the World's Most Important Number (Bloomberg/Wiley, 2017), journalists Liam Vaughan and Gavin Finch profile the antihero Tom Hayes, "a brilliant, obsessive, reckless, irascible math prodigy who transformed rate-rigging from a blunt instrument into a thing of intricate, terrible beauty." They also introduce us to his entourage of enablers and co-conspirators.
Hayes, who in 2015, when he was 35, was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, had "a steely stomach for risk." And a passion to win, whatever it took. In his case, it took getting his brokers to lie to the banks about what was happening in the cash markets.
The Fix... is a riveting tale of illegal behavior, usually engaged in for profit, sometimes (or so the justification went) for the stability of the banking sector. It exposes a culture of corruption where even the guilty usually walk. "Of the more than 20 individuals identified by Hayes as taking part in the scheme, he is the only one to be convicted."
Unlike the jurors in the brokers' case, who kept falling asleep during the trial, readers of this book will be wide awake from beginning to end. The two authors provide only enough information about Libor to make their story understandable. Financial wonks will undoubtedly be disappointed, but most other readers will compulsively keep turning pages.