Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Liam Vaughan's "Flash Crash"

Liam Vaughan is an investigative journalist for Bloomberg and Bloomberg Businessweek. He has been awarded the Gerald Loeb prize for excellence in business journalism and the Harold Wincott prize for financial journalism. He is coauthor of The Fix: How Bankers Lied, Cheated, and Colluded to Rig the World’s Most Important Number. He lives in London.

Vaughan applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Flash Crash: A Trading Savant, a Global Manhunt, and the Most Mysterious Market Crash in History, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Dressed in bespoke suits and statement watches, they pitched their prospects in the lobbies of five-star hotels. After hours they networked at charity events and clubs like the Worshipful Company of International Bankers. MacKinnon’s style was high energy and relentless. Dupont was a social chameleon.
Page 99 of Flash Crash introduces readers to a pair of financiers who enriched themselves by introducing the book’s protagonist, a na├»ve but brilliant financial trader named Navinder Sarao, to a string of disastrous investments.

A browser who opened Flash Crash on page 99 would get a good sense of the journalistic narrative style and the somewhat unseemly milieu in which the action occurs. They wouldn’t, however, get any indication of the book’s central story, or its themes. Overall, I’d say the test is moderately successful, since readers get enough of a taste for the tenor of the book to make an informed decision as to whether they might enjoy it.

Flash Crash tells the remarkable true story of Navinder Singh Sarao, a working class savant from the outskirts of London who taught himself to trade, made $70 million which he didn't tell anyone about, and was ultimately blamed by the American government with causing a $1 trillion market crash from his bedroom. One of the book’s strengths, I hope, is that it takes readers into a world beyond the big investment banks and hedge funds: a world of strivers, like Nav, and chancers, like the pair introduced on page 99, who helped relieve him of his money. For many readers, Flash Crash will be an eye-opening journey into the underbelly of global finance: the tax dodgers, the markets cheats, the offshore bankers and the fraudsters. Page 99 provides a glimpse of that.
Visit Liam Vaughan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue