LIBOR Manipulation Emails

Earlier this week, news broke that LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate, has been manipulated by at least one bank (Barclays). LIBOR is “the bedrock of the financial system — the majority of American mortgages are somehow pegged to LIBOR.”

LIBOR is a “global interest rate, calculated every day, which tells you how much interest banks are paying when borrowing from each other.” It’s calculated by a survey that contacts 18 banks and asks them their opinion on interest rates, basically. The question:

At what rate could you borrow funds, were you to do so by asking for them and then accepting interbank offers in a reasonable market size, just prior to 11am?

No calculations were asked, no regulator checks. Small manipulations could make money for the banks. Email transcripts that are being used as evidence against Barclays:

(2005)

Submitter (of LIBOR rate for Barclays): Hi all, just as an fyi, I’ll be in noonish on Monday.

Trader (who should not be in contact with the submitter): Noonish? Who’s gonna put my low fixings in? Hehehe.

Submitter: [Two names] will be here if you have any requests for the fixings.

(2006)

Trader: What do you think you’ll go for in 3 months?

Submitter: I’m gonna go 90 but 91 is what I should be posting.

Trader: When I retire and write a book about this business, your name will be written in gold letters.

Submitter: I would prefer not to be in any book!

(no date given)

Trader: Dude I owe you big time. Come over one day after work and I’ll open a bottle of [champagne]!

(no date given — this one’s a biggie because it points to collusion between multiple banks)

Trader: Duuuude, what’s up with your guy’s 34.5 3M fix? Tell him to get it up!

Trader at another bank: I”ll talk to him right away.

______________________________________________________

Kestenbaum, David and Robert Smith. “The Little Lie that Rocked the Banks.” Planet Money 384. 3 July 2012.

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