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.

Tom hayes
By Elliott Brown (ell brown on Flickr) from Birmingham, United Kingdom (79 – 83 Colmore Row – RBS – Royal Bank of Scotland) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tom 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.

Vanilla interest rate swap world's most important number Libor Tom Hayes
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“The first thing you think is where’s the edge, where can I make a bit more money, how can I push, push the boundaries. But the point is, you are greedy, you want every little bit of money that you can possibly get because, like I say, that is how you are judged, that is your performance metric”
Tom Hayes, 2013

In the midst of the financial crisis, Tom Hayes and his network of traders and brokers from Wall Street’s leading firms set to work engineering the biggest financial conspiracy ever seen. As the rest of the world burned, they came together on secret chat rooms and late night phone calls to hatch an audacious plan to rig Libor, the ‘world’s most important number’ and the basis for $350 trillion of securities from mortgages to loans to derivatives. Without the persistence of a rag-tag team of investigators from the U.S., they would have got away with it….

The Fix by award-winning Bloomberg journalists Liam Vaughan and Gavin Finch, is the inside story of the Libor scandal, told through the journey of the man at the centre of it: a young, scruffy, socially awkward misfit from England whose genius for math and obsessive personality made him a trading phenomenon, but ultimately paved the way for his own downfall.

Based on hundreds of interviews, and unprecedented access to the traders and brokers involved, and the investigators who caught up with them, The Fix provides a rare look into the dark heart of global finance at the start of the 21st Century.