In 1973, three brilliant economists, Fischer Black, Myron Scholes, and Robert Merton, discovered a mathematical Holy Grail that revolutionized modern finance. The elegant formula they unleashed upon the world was sparse and deceptively simple, yet it led to the creation of a multi-trillion dollar industry. Their bold ideas earned Scholes and Merton a Nobel Prize (Black died before the prize was awarded) and attracted the elite of Wall Street.Â
In 1993, Scholes and Merton joined forces with John Meriweather, the legendary bond trader of Salomon Brothers. With 13 other partners, they launched a new hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, which promised to use mathematical models to make investors tremendous amounts of money. Their money machines reaped fantastic profits, until their theories collided with reality, and sent the company spiraling out of control. The crisis threatened to bring markets around the world to the brink of collapse.