Monday, July 23, 2012

Day of LIBOR Reckoning

Though collusion on rate executions
Was the norm in finance institutions,
When the tide quickly turned
Many bank traders learned
They would naturally face prosecutions.

The trouble with a culture of open financial fraud is that it leaves behind quite a paper trail in the unlikely eventuality that the authorities ever decide to crack down. So it is with the London Interbank Offer Rate-setting process, in regard to which US federal prosecutors and European regulators now intend to arrest individual traders on both sides of the Atlantic. Accounts differ as to how long the manipulation of LIBOR and related interest rates has gone on - some say 15 years - but central banking authorities in the US and UK have known of it since at least 2008. That was when staff members of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York discussed LIBOR with one or more traders who told them that their submitted rates were fake. Alarmed, then-FRBNY president Timothy Geithner sent off a "best practices" memo to Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King, outlining ways to curb the abuses. Four years later, the media attention and public outcry have seemingly forced the hand of officialdom; against whom, we will soon hear.

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