Libor Criminal Investigations Will Happen: Diamond

By Catherine Boyle

July 4 (CNBC) — Bob Diamond, the recently-departed chief executive of Barclays, told U.K. politicians that there would be criminal investigations into the manipulation of the London interbank offered rate (Libor) scandal which led to his resignation.

From my 2009 proposals here:

2. US banks should not be allowed to contract in LIBOR. LIBOR is an interest rate set in a foreign country (the UK) with a large, subjective component that is out of the hands of the US government. Part of the current crisis was the Federal Reserve’s inability to bring down the LIBOR settings to its target interest rate, as it tried to assist millions of US homeowners and other borrowers who had contacted with US banks to pay interest based on LIBOR settings. Desperate to bring $US interest rates down for domestic borrowers, the Federal Reserve resorted to a very high risk policy of advancing unlimited, functionally unsecured, $US lines of credit called ‘swap lines’ to several foreign central banks. These loans were advanced at the Fed’s low target rate, with the hope that the foreign central banks would lend these funds to their member banks at the low rates, and thereby bring down the LIBOR settings and the cost of borrowing $US for US households and businesses. The loans to the foreign central banks peaked at about $600 billion and did eventually work to bring down the LIBOR settings. But the risks were substantial. There is no way for the Fed to collect a loan from a foreign central bank that elects not to pay it back. If, instead of contracting based on LIBOR settings, US banks had been linking their loan rates and lines of credit to the US fed funds rate, this problem would have been avoided. The rates paid by US borrowers, including homeowners and businesses, would have come down as the Fed intended when it cut the fed funds rate.

8 Responses

  1. question : on a web site I read that Barclays&C. managed to REDUCE Libor (Cost of Money for Banks, in theory) with an advantage also for Customers (that pay Libor+Spread on their mortgage)..
    but this interpretation seem too strange.. Banks have interest to ARTIFICCIALI RAISE Libor to recharge more to thei customers..

    what’s the truth ?

  2. Warren, why do US banks choose to contract in LIBOR (is it a choice)? Would they prefer not to, particularly in situations where the Fed was trying to bring down rates? Is it complicated by the ‘global’ nature of large banks?

      1. @WARREN MOSLER,

        Is there a comparable index for US banks? Or is it Fed Funds rate, because US interbank lending converges to that rate?

        LIBOR would seem to be beyond the control of the UK central bank, maybe that is why it is preferred?

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