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Barometer of Fear

Barometer of Fear

Alexis Stenfors


Additional Information


The LIBOR affair has been described as the ‘biggest banking scandal in history’, a deception affecting not only banks but also corporations, pension funds and ordinary people.

But was this just the tip of the iceberg? Was the scandal the work of a few ‘bad apples’ or an inevitable result of a financial system rotten to its core? Labelled ‘one of the world's most infamous rogue traders’ in the wake of a mis-marking scandal, Alexis Stenfors went on to rebuild his life and now guides us through the shadowy world of modern banking, providing an insider’s account of the secret practices – including the manipulation of foreign exchange rates – which have allowed banks to profit from systematic deception. Containing remarkable and often shocking insights derived from his own experiences in the dealing room, as well as his spectacular fall from grace at Merrill Lynch, Barometer of Fear draws back the curtain to a realm that for too long has remained hidden from public view.

‘A fascinating insight into the culture of modern banking and the psychology of risk taking on the trading floor.’
John Plender, Financial Times columnist

‘A searingly honest account of the activities of traders in the world's global markets, written in an accessible style by a brilliant, but touchingly human trader who found himself at the very vortex of the great financial crisis. Barometer of Fear offers deep insights in to the workings of the machinery that is the global financial system.’
Ann Pettifor, author of The Production of Money and Just Money: How Society Can Break the Despotic Power of Finance

‘Stenfors uncovers how unregulated finance operates, or more precisely how traders think. He exposes a system out of control, incapable of self-restraint, nourishing rogue behaviour and ready to burst again at any time.’
Paul Dembinski, Observatoire de la Finance

‘[Stenfors] has written a beautifully literate, Jonathan Swift-referencing book about the dark side of the City and in particular Libor, the London interbank offered rate that was once dubbed the “barometer of fear”.’
The Times

‘The most shocking element of Stenfors’s new book is that it confirms that the economic crisis, which was effectively created by the banks, did very little to make the banks address their bad habits.’

Alexis Stenfors spent 15 years as a trader at HSBC, Citi, Crédit Agricole and Merrill Lynch. In 2009, he found himself at the centre of a ‘mispricing’ scandal which would eventually result in him being described as one of the ‘world’s most infamous rogue traders’. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Economics and Finance at Portsmouth Business School.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover
Half Title i
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Acknowledgements vii
Abbreviations ix
Introduction: ‘It’s a Misunderstanding’ 1
1. The Barometer of Fear 17
2. ‘Why Did You Do It?’ 56
3. Superheroes and Beauty Pageants 70
4. The LIBOR Illusion 107
5. The Value of Secrets 154
6. Conventions and Conspiracies 187
7. Rotten Apples 235
8. The Perfect Storm 275
Glossary 287
Notes 293
Bibliography 299
Index 314
About the Author 326