Tag Archive: LIBOR

May 20 2015

Guilty As Charged But Nobody Goes to Jail

The new Attorney General Loretta Lynch proves why she should not have been confirmed, as she rubber stamps the same weak polices of her predecessor Eric Holder regarding the prosecution of the “Too Big to Jail” bankers.

5 Banks to Pay Billions and Plead Guilty in Currency and Interest Rate Cases

By Ben Protess and Ben Corkery, The New York Times

Adding another entry to Wall Street’s growing rap sheet, five big banks have agreed to pay about $5.6 billion and plead guilty to multiple crimes related to manipulating foreign currencies and interest rates, federal and state authorities announced on Wednesday.

The Justice Department forced four of the banks – Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and the Royal Bank of Scotland – to plead guilty to antitrust violations in the foreign exchange market as part of a scheme that padded the banks’ profits and enriched the traders who carried out the plot. The traders were supposed to be competitors, but much like companies that rigged the price of vitamins and automotive parts, they colluded to manipulate the largest and yet least regulated market in the financial world, where some $5 trillion changes hands every day, prosecutors said. [..]

A fifth bank, UBS, will also plead guilty on Wednesday to manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark rate that underpins the cost of trillions of dollars in credit cards and other loans. Federal prosecutors had previously agreed not to prosecute the Swiss bank over the Libor scheme. But in a rare stand against corporate recidivism, the Justice Department voided that non-prosecution agreement after learning that UBS was also taking part in the effort to manipulate currency prices.

The guilty pleas, which the banks are expected to enter in federal court in Connecticut on Wednesday, represent a first in a financial industry that has been dogged by numerous scandals and investigations since the 2008 financial crisis. Until now, banks have either had their biggest banking units or small subsidiaries plead guilty. But with the four banks charged with currency violations, the guilty pleas will come from their parent companies. [..]

For the banks, though, life as a felon is likely to carry more symbolic shame than practical problems. Although they could be technically barred by American regulators from managing mutual funds or corporate pension plans or perform certain other securities activities, the banks have obtained waivers from the Securities and Exchange Commission that will allow them to conduct business as usual. In fact, the cases were not announced until after the S.E.C. had time to act.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Wall Street watchdog group Better Markets weighed in on the lack of any criminal prosecutions:

Better Markets called it a “slap on the wrist” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in an e-mail: “That’s not accountability for Wall Street. It’s business as usual, and it stinks.” [..]

Dennis Kelleher, president of Better Markets, a non-profit group, said that the Justice Department had not done enough, saying “it talks tough, but winks at Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks’ criminal conduct, structuring sweetheart deals to minimize the impact on the criminals.”

Kelleher said the fines alone wouldn’t deter future criminal acts and that the Justice Department should punish bank executives and their supervisors for bad behavior. “Banks don’t commit crimes, bankers do,” he said.

Warren said “the big banks have been caught red-handed conspiring to manipulate financial markets, and several have even admitted in court that they’re felons – but not a single trader is being held individually accountable, and regulators are stumbling over themselves to exempt the banks from the legally required consequences of their criminal behavior.”

At Esquire Politics, Charles Pierce is not impressed by Ms. Lynch:

What a fake. What a fraud. What an insult to any stick-up kid doing five-to-fifteen for robbing a bodega. The banks don’t even have to look between the cushions on the sofa for the loose change they’ll use to pay the fines. They get to use their stockholders’ money to pay the fine. [..]

This is altogether remarkable. Here we have a staggering series of crimes that did very real damage to thousands of people all over the world. Here we have a staggering series of crimes, but not a single identifiable criminal. Who rigged the markets? The bank buildings? A shadowy cabal of ledgers? Motorcycle gangs made up of quarterly reports? This is the only area of criminal justice where law-enforcement actively avoids identifying anyone as a criminal.

Let us face facts. Within these institutions, there have to be hundreds of people who were involved in some way with a scam this large. There were people who supervised those hundreds of people, and people who supervised them. Somewhere, in that mass of criminal activity, I’m willing to bet something substantial that a human being committed an actual crime.

But, no. “The banks” get fined. This is just too freaking hilarious.

After all this evidence and investigation, not one person has been arrested. Sure some were fired at insistence of some regulators, but never criminally charged. So, the crooks are still getting away with breaking the law. Fines are a joke. Most of these banks will recoup those fines in less than a day and, at the end of the year, deduct them as business losses, so the tax payer once again foots the bill. I would hardly call that a victory. It’s a joke.

Feb 12 2013

The Geithner Doctrine

The former special inspector-general of the troubled asset relief program (TARP), Neil Barofsky says that it is time for a “post mortem” analysis former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s doctrine, the preservation of large banks, the largesse of Wall St. and the perversion of of the US criminal justice system. In this article posted at naked capitalism, Mr. Barofsky looks at the effect of the “Geithner Doctrine” and the weak response to the LIBOR scandal:

The recent parade of banking scandals, such as the manipulation of Libor rates by Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and other major banks, can be traced back to the lax system of regulation before the financial crisis – and the weak response once disaster struck.

Take the response of the New York Federal Reserve to Barclays’ admission in 2008 that it was submitting false Libor rates and was not alone in doing so. Mr Geithner’s response was to in effect bury the tip. He sent a memo to the Bank of England suggesting some changes to the rate-setting process and then convened a meeting of regulators where he reportedly described only the risk but not the actual manipulation of the rate. He then put the government imprimatur on the rate via bailout programmes. His inaction helped permit a global crime to continue for another year.

When it was UBS’s turn to settle its Libor charges, even though a significant amount of the illegal activity took place at the parent company level, only a Japanese subsidiary was required to take a plea. Eric Holder, US attorney-general, demonstrated his embrace of the Geithner doctrine (a phrase coined by blogger Yves Smith) in explaining the UBS decision. He said that a more aggressive stance against the parent company could have a negative “impact on the stability of the financial markets around the world”.

This week we saw the latest instalment of the saga. In fining RBS £390m, the DoJ only indicted one of the bank’s Asian subsidiaries, avoiding the more damaging result that would have stemmed from charging the parent company.

Instead of seeking deterrence and justice, the US government increasingly appears to have fully absorbed the Geithner doctrine into its charging decisions by seeking a result that has a minimal impact on the target bank but will generate the best-looking press release. Some banks today are still too big to fail – and they are still too big to jail.

There are no meaningful consequences for this criminality. The fines with a promise not to do this again are just a game to allow the banks to continue the fraudulent conduct and find better ways to cover it up. Mr. Barofsky concludes that we must ditch the “Geithner Doctrine” to end “the game of incentives gone wild, and the lack of accountability in the aftermath of the crisis has only reinforced those bad incentives.”

o reclaim our system of justice, the global threat posed by the failure of any of our largest financial institutions must be neutralised once and for all. They must be reduced in size, their safety nets must be dramatically constricted and their capital requirements enhanced far beyond the current standards. Then, and only then, can the same set of rules apply to all.

In an extended interview with The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, Mr. Barofsky discussed the double standards of the TARP program and the alien culture of Washington DC and explains why the banks will never face true justice..

Oct 25 2012

The Election is Essentially Over and Spoiler Alert: Wall Street Won

I know it. You know it, so who are we kidding? I suppose anything can happen, but essentially the election is over and our President will very likely win the electoral college and the Democrats will keep the Senate and maybe pick up some new seats in the House. So I’m here to find meaning within it all, because I have not been able to grasp how shutting up during election season, but then speaking up after the election will make us “move froward.” Especially when the President and the filibuster-loving-set-to-do-nothing Congress do not have to care what we think at all afterwards.

They may get together for their grand bargain since many so called Democrats and Republicans are deficit terrorists and will work to tear down our social safety net in a bipartisan way for the mythical bond vigilantes and confidence fairies they believe in because Peter Peterson told them some scary bedtime stories in the chambers of Congress. This will all be hashed out in unrepresentative undemocratic gangs of 6 or 8 or 12 without our input. So what are we supposed to do when that happens and we are cut out? Make believe they still love us?

Or perhaps some think pointing this out is me being seduced by cynicism. Though I respect some who are arguing this now as opposed to the past, I have to vehemently disagree and I think I have a good case to make to counter that narrative.

Sep 28 2012

Is LIBOR Fixable?

Some regulators think LIBOR, the benchmark for short term interest rates that is fixed by a group of bankers in London, can be fixed. Others feel it is irreparably damaged and was a myth from the start.

Libor Rate ‘Needs A Complete Overhaul,’ But Not To Be Scrapped, British Officials Say

Britain’s top financial watchdog delivered a 10-point plan to fix Libor but stopped short of scrapping the benchmark interest rate in a much-awaited reform of a system plagued by scandal.

“The system is broken and needs a complete overhaul,” said Martin Wheatley, head of the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Wheatley acknowledged problems with London interbank offered rates, but said Libor is so deeply entrenched in the financial system that it cannot be easily replaced. [..]

CHARGES OF MANIPULATION

Multiple banks have been accused of trying to manipulate Libor, a series of rates set daily in London. Barclays in June agreed to pay $453 million to U.S. and British authorities to settle allegations that it tried to move Libor to help its trading positions.

Wheatley’s programme for reform includes auditing banks that contribute data used to calculate the rates, to ensure they are not submitting false rates to benefit trading positions. [..]

SHRINKING THE NUMBER OF RATES

Rates that are infrequently referenced in trades, such as Australian and Canadian dollar rates, will be phased out, Wheatley said. Maturities that are infrequently used, such as four, five, seven, eight, 10 and 11 months, will also be ended.

The reductions will shrink the current number of Libor rates set daily to 20 from 150. Rates that are rarely traded are easier to manipulate.

More banks will be required to submit their borrowing rates. [..]

The Myth of Fixing the Libor

There were two implicit assumptions in Libor. One was that banks were virtually risk-free, or at least that their risk was small and would not vary much over time. The other was that there was a way to actually calculate what the rate was. Both assumptions turned out to be wrong.

Libor rates are calculated each day by the British Bankers’ Association, a trade group that makes good money from licensing the use of Libor rates. [..]

The scandal made clear that those reports were faked before and during the financial crisis by at least some of the banks. But what is not as widely appreciated is that there is substantial evidence that the deception goes on. Banks continue to report figures that strain credulity, both in their level and in their lack of volatility from day to day or week to week. [..]

The bank regulators believed the fiction. Banks that owned AAA-rated floating rate assets needed to keep virtually no reserves on hand to back them.

We all know what happened. It turned out that risks were far greater than had been realized. Banks failed or were bailed out. Investors in AAA securities suffered major losses.

Libor was manipulated by bankers long before the financial crisis, and it is still based on calculations that have little basis in reality. Mr. Wheatley assures us that more regulation can deal with conflicts of interest. There will, he promises, be a “clear code of conduct” and “clear rules,” enforced by a regulator with “extensive powers.”

Pollyanna lives.

Some folks just cling to their myths.

Jul 28 2012

Our Treasury Secretary Was Chosen to Represent Bankers. Not You.

Cross posted at our new beta site Voices on the Square and in orange.

That’s right, and it was clear to everyone who opposed the pick of Tim Geithner from the start.  In his testimony yesterday on the NY Fed’s knowledge of the LIBOR scandal, Tim Geithner once again stated the falsity that the NY Fed was not a regulator (like he has before showing he’s either a liar or completely incompetent), when in fact he was one of the most important regulators, unknown to him, supposedly.

This was during the proceedings looking into the 100 cents on the dollar backdoor bailout of Goldman Sachs through AIG facilitated while he was President of the NY Fed.

COUNT 2: He wasn’t even a regulator! In Geithner’s own words during confirmation hearings in March: “First of all, I’ve never been a regulator…I’m not a regulator.” According to the New York fed bank’s Web site, that was your job!!

Quoting from the Fed’s website: “As part of our core mission, we supervise and regulate financial institutions in the Second District.” That district of course is the epicenter for bailed out banks and billion dollar bonuses.

It is not just the responsibility of Fed Board governors like Tim Geithner said in his testimony yesterday while trying to inflate the case for his so called “intervention” that wasn’t on LIBOR. This lack of knowledge and corruption bothers me and it also bothers me that so many don’t care, because there is an election. I feel like we are all being lulled to sleep every night by MSNBC and the partisan cable news 2012 election war syndrome.

Shortly after the President was elected, there were many naive Democrats who claimed Giethner was “a brilliant pick” merely because the President picked him which is always the criterion, sadly. I saw it as the beginning of the end of any chance of a functioning financial system that we were promised during the 2008 election by this President.  That’s why I got involved in 2008, and that’s why a lot of us are unmotivated to say the least.

You see, to be making excuses for Tim Geithner even now while not even understanding the responsibilities of the NY Fed is outright embarrassing and immoral for all the damage it causes.  

Jul 19 2012

LIBOR: There Will Be No Prosecutions

LIBOR If you think for that the Justice Department in this administration is going to prosecute or regulate any of the people who were involved in the LIBOR scandal, erase that thought. Regardless of any evidence the government may have now or in the future that would send the average trader to prison for life, the main goal for Attorney General Eric Holder is to protect the banksters from prosecution. There was no reason to give immunity

from prosecution of the Commodities Exchange Act. Since the government already had the e-mails, they had enough to issue subpoenas and arrest warrants. Instead, Holder’s office gave them immunity from prosecution:

A crucial element in any prosecution is criminal intent, and it’s plain from the Barclays e-mails that various participants knew that what they were doing was wrong. As one Barclays trader put it in e-mails to traders at other banks, “don’t talk about it too much,” “don’t make any noise about it please” and “this can backfire against us.”

Faced with what would seem to be an open-and-shut case, how did the Justice Department proceed? Barclays entered into a nonprosecution agreement in which the United States government agreed not to prosecute Barclays as long as it met its other obligations under the agreement, including continued cooperation in what the government said was an investigation still under way. Barclays also received a conditional grant of immunity from the antitrust division. [..]

The United States government “had the smoking guns,” Professor (John C.) Coffee said, and “it could have demanded its price from Barclays,” including a guilty plea to a crime. At the same time, the agreement “isn’t surprising,” he said. “The Department of Justice has done this in almost every major case since the collapse of Arthur Andersen.” (Andersen was the accounting firm indicted after the collapse of Enron.)

Glen Ford nails precisely why there will be no prosecutions, since the ultimate aim is “protecting the banks from the consequences of their crimes:”

“The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case.”

The Obama Justice Department is in theater mode, again, pretending to threaten the bankster class with criminal penalties – prison time! – for their manipulation of the global economy’s benchmark interest rates. The Justice Department claims to be building criminal and civil cases in the LIBOR scandal, which in sheer scope is the biggest fraud by international capital in history. But that’s all a front, a farce. Barack Obama has spent his entire presidency protecting Wall Street, starting with his rescue of George Bush’s bank bailout bill after it’s initial defeat in Congress, in the last days of Obama’s candidacy. He packed his administration with banksters, passed his own bailout and, in collaboration with the Federal Reserve, channeled at least $16 trillion dollars into the accounts of U.S. and even European banks – by far the greatest transfer of capital in the history of the world. Obama has reminded the banksters that it was he who saved them from the “pitchforks” of an outraged public. He pushed through Congress so-called financial reform legislation that left derivatives – the deadly instruments of mass financial destruction that were at the heart of the meltdown – untouched. [..]

Now Obama and Holder are playing the same diversionary game, making tough noises about criminal investigations of the LIBOR conspirators. But the Justice Department has already given immunity to Barclay’s Bank, of Britain, and to the Swiss banking giant UBS. More immunities will follow. The reason Eric Holder is staging criminal investigations is because that’s the only way he can protect the bankers, through immunities and by gradually narrowing the scope of the case. In the end, there will be settlements all around, and the banksters will move on to even more fantastic heights of criminality – thanks to the loyal, protective hands of President Obama.

Prosecutions? Don’t hold you breath.

Jul 17 2012

LIBOR: Past Time to Investigate the NY Fed

Wall St. is a high crime area and the criminals are allowed to run free.

~Dennis Kelleher~

Back in May of 2009, Eliot Spitzer, former New York State Attorney General, aka “The Sheriff of Wall St,”, wrote this article for Slate after the revelation that New York Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Stephen Friedman’s “purchased some Goldman stock while the Fed was involved in reviewing major decisions about Goldman’s future.” In the article he called into question just who it is that selects the person who sits at the head of the table:

A quasi-independent, public-private body, the New York Fed is the first among equals of the 12 regional Fed branches. Unlike the Washington Federal Reserve Board of Governors, or the other regional fed branches, the N.Y. Fed is active in the markets virtually every day, changing the critical interest rates that determine the liquidity of the markets and the profitability of banks. And, like the other regional branches, it has boundless power to examine, at will, the books of virtually any banking institution and require that wide-ranging actions be taken-from raising capital to stopping lending-to ensure the stability and soundness of the bank. Over the past year, the New York Fed has been responsible for committing trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to resuscitate the coffers of the banks it oversees. [..]

So who selected Geithner back in 2003? Well, the Fed board created a select committee to pick the CEO. This committee included none other than Hank Greenberg, then the chairman of AIG; John Whitehead, a former chairman of Goldman Sachs; Walter Shipley, a former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, now JPMorgan Chase; and Pete Peterson, a former chairman of Lehman Bros. It was not a group of typical depositors worried about the security of their savings accounts but rather one whose interest was in preserving a capital structure and way of doing business that cried out for-but did not receive-harsh examination from the N.Y. Fed.

The composition of the New York Fed’s board, which supervises the organization and current Chairman Friedman, is equally troubling. The board consists of nine individuals, three chosen by the N.Y. Fed member banks as their own representatives, three chosen by the member banks to represent the public, and three chosen by the national Fed Board of Governors to represent the public. In theory this sounds great: Six board members are “public” representatives.

So essentially, we have the thieves guarding the vault. Willie Sutton would have loved this.

That brings us to the LIBOR scandal and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s role. In his currentSlate article, Mr. Spitzer again reiterates the growing need to investigate the NY Fed. and Mr. Geithner. What did he know? When did he know it? Why didn’t he refer it to the Justice Department?

The New York Federal Reserve knew about Libor games being played by the banks years ago and seems to have done precious little about it-except perhaps send a memo parroting the so-called reform ideas proposed by the banks themselves. Then nothing more. No prosecutions, no inquiries of the banks to see if the illegal behavior had stopped-just a live-and-let-live attitude.

Apparently, as Mr. Geithner had testified during his confirmation hearing for Treasury, he didn’t see himself as a “regulator.” Yet, that is the most important part of the NY Federal Reserve. But then look who chose him as Fed president:

Hank Greenberg of AIG and John Whitehead of Goldman Sachs–these companies that got bailed out-were on the NY Fed committee that made Tim Geithner their president.

No conflict of interest there? Wow.

MR. Spitzer believes that it is time for the NY Fed to be investigated:

Was there a similar conflict of interest when the New York Fed apparently did nothing adequate about the Libor games? Well, look who was on the board: Dick Fuld of Lehman fame; Sandy Weill of Citibank; Jeff Immelt of GE-the largest beneficiary of the Fed’s commercial paper guarantees; and, of course, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, whose bank’s London derivative trades and Libor involvement make his role on the board even more absurd.

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone contributing editor, and Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets Inc., join “Viewpoint” host Eliot Spitzer to assess the scope of the unfolding Libor scandal given news that the U.S. Justice Department is building criminal cases and expects to “file charges against at least one bank later this year,” according to The New York Times.

Lets just say that I agree with Atrios, don’t hold your breath for either an investigation or prosecutions.

Jul 13 2012

Happy Friday the Thirteenth or Not

If it weren’t Friday the Thirteenth, you’d think it was April’s Fool. It’s all the usual excuses by the CEO’s and the TBTF banks, “we are just finding it was this bad”

JPMorgan Fears Traders Obscured Losses in First Quarter

JPMorgan Chase, which reported its second-quarter results on Friday, disclosed that the losses on a soured credit bet could mount to more than $7 billion, as the nation’s largest bank indicated that traders may have intentionally tried to conceal the extent of the red ink on the disastrous position. [..]

If the trades, made out of the powerful chief investment office unit in London, had been properly valued, the bank said it would have lost $1.4 billion on the position in the first quarter.

Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive who has consistently reassured investors that the losses would be contained, announced that the bank lost $4.4 billion on the botched trade in the second quarter. So far this year, the bank says it has lost $5.8 billion on the trades in credit derivatives.  [..]

Since announcing the multibillion-dollar mistake, JPMorgan has lost $25 billion in market value.

Jamie Dimon finally admitting what we already knew but still not admitting that the real losses for the bank is closer to $30 billion. He is either the most incompetent CEO or he thinks that we’re all stupid to realize he knew about tis all along.

or  “but Timmy wrote a memo”

Barclays Informed New York Fed of Problems With Libor in 2007

A Barclays employee notified the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in April of 2008 that the firm was underestimating its borrowing costs, following potential warning signs as early as 2007 that other banks were undermining the integrity of a key interest rate.

In 2008, the employee said that the move was prompted by a desire to “fit in with the rest of the crowd” and added, “we know that we’re not posting um, an honest Libor,” according to documents that the agency released on Friday. The Barclays employee said that he believed such practices were widespread among major banks.

In response, the New York Fed began examining the matter and passed their findings to other financial authorities, according to the documents.

But the agency’s actions came too late and failed to thwart the illegal activities. By the time of the April 2008 conversation, the British firm had been trying to manipulate the interest rate for three years. And the practice persisted at Barclays for about a year after the briefing with the New York Fed.

Friday’s revelations shed new light on regulators’ role in the rate manipulation scandal. The documents also raise concerns about why authorities did not act sooner to thwart the rate-rigging.

The perp’s figured they were too big to indict and the Justice Department agreed.

In Barclays Inquiry, the Calculation in Making a Deal

The question needs to be faced in the wake of the bank’s admitted efforts to manipulate the London interbank offered rate, known as Libor, the benchmark for countless interest rate determinations and approximately $450 trillion in derivative contracts.

If the Justice Department was looking for a textbook case of white-collar financial crime – including a conspiracy that was flourishing at the height of the financial crisis – this would seem tailor-made. As the facts released by the government make clear, there were two separate but overlapping schemes to manipulate Libor within Barclays. Yet the bank secured a nonprosecution agreement and agreed to pay a penalty of more than $450 million, a comparatively paltry sum for a bank that had more than £32 billion ($50 billion) in revenue in 2011. “The perception so far has been that the regulators have been toothless,” John C. Coffee Jr., professor of law and specialist in white-collar crime at Columbia Law School, told me this week. [..]

(The criminal division said its agreement with Barclays was reached in conjunction with the antitrust division.)

And this is why Richard Diamond and Jamie Dimon have nothing to worry about and the world is still being screwed.

 

Jul 12 2012

LIBOR Effects on US Loans

LIBOR just keeps getting bigger by the day, like a wildfire.

Effect of Libor on US loans examined

by Shahien Nasiripour at The Financial Times

US lawmakers have raised concerns that the alleged manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, may have harmed households, raising the stakes on a scandal that thus far has been confined to Wall Street and the City of London.

There are at least 900,000 outstanding US home loans indexed to Libor that were originated from 2005 to 2009, the period the key lending gauge may have been rigged, investigators have said. Those mortgages carry an unpaid principal balance of $275bn, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bank regulator.

During periods when banks were allegedly attempting to push Libor higher, households with loans tied to the gauge may have paid higher rates than necessary. However, if the rate was manipulated lower, households may have benefited from paying below-market interest rates.

“I think the US government should be just as aggressive in getting to the bottom of this scandal as the United Kingdom has been,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, chair of the bank regulatory subcommittee on the Senate banking committee.

“This was not isolated to London, but affected tens of millions of investors, borrowers and taxpayers in our country as well,” Mr Brown added.

Libor Investigation Extended to US Mortgages, but What About TALF Loans?

by Yves Smith at naked capitalism

One area we hope will be investigated is the impact on TALF borrowing. Some of the loans were priced off Libor, raising the specter that the banks might have gamed the rates not just for advertising purposes, but to game these programs. From the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s website:

   The interest rate on TALF loans secured by ABS backed by federally guaranteed student loans will be 50 basis points over 1-month LIBOR. The interest rate on TALF loans secured by SBA Pool Certificates will be the federal funds target rate plus 75 basis points. The interest rate on TALF loans secured by SBA Development Company Participation Certificates will be 50 basis points over the 3-year LIBOR swap rate for three-year TALF loans and 50 basis points over the 5-year LIBOR swap rate for five-year TALF loans. For three-year TALF loans secured by other eligible fixed-rate ABS, the interest rate will be 100 basis points over the 1-year LIBOR swap rate for securities with a weighted average life less than one year, 100 basis points over the 2-year LIBOR swap rate for securities with a weighted average life greater than or equal to one year and less than two years, or 100 basis points over the 3-year LIBOR swap rate for securities with a weighted average life of two years or greater. For TALF loans secured by private student loan ABS bearing a prime-based coupon, the interest rate will be the higher of 1 percent and the rate equal to “Prime Rate” (as defined in the MLSA) minus 175 basis points. For other TALF loans secured by other eligible floating-rate ABS, the interest rate will be 100 basis points over 1-month LIBOR.

Note again that some of the loans were priced off one-month Libor, which per the Barclays disclosures, were among the maturities manipulated; these are clearly a place to start [..]

The Market Has Spoken, and It Is Rigged

by Simon Johnson at The New York Times

In the aftermath of the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, the most surprising reaction has been from people in the financial sector who fully understand the awfulness of what has happened. Rather than seeing this as an issue of law and order, some well-informed people have been drawn toward arguments that excuse or justify the behavior of the Barclays employees.

This is a big mistake, in terms of the economics at stake and the likely political impact.

The behavior at Barclays has all the hallmarks of fraud – intentional deception for personal gain, causing significant damage to others.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission nailed the detailed mechanics of this deception in plain English in its Order Instituting Proceedings (which is also a settlement and series of admissions by Barclays). Most of the compelling quotes from traders involved in this scandal come from the commission’s order, but too few commentators seem to have read the full document. Please look at it now, if you have not done so already.

The commission’s order portrays a wide-ranging conspiracy (or perhaps a set of conspiracies) to rig markets, including, but not limited to, any securities for which the price is linked to a particular set of short-term interest rates.

This past weekend on Up with Chris Hayes, Chris and his panel guests discuss the rate rigging scandal.

Jul 06 2012

LIBOR Just Won’t Go Away

The huge LIBOR scandal that involves the manipulations of rates by the big banks is like a black hole that is sucking more and more into its center. Nor is this scandal victimless, as former former Barclay’s chief executive Bob Diamond would have the world believe.

Yes, Virginia, the Real Action in the Libor Scandal Was in the Derivatives

by Yves Smith at naked capitalism

As the Libor scandal has given an outlet for long-simmering anger against wanker bankers in the UK, there have been some efforts in the media to puzzle out who might have won or lost from the manipulations, as well as arguments that they were as “victimless” or helped people (as in reporting an artificially low Libor during the crisis led to lower interest rate resets on adjustable rate loans pegged to Libor; what’s not to like about that?)

What we have so far is a lot of drunk under the streetlight behavior: people trying to relate the scandal to the part that is most visible and easy to understand, meaning the loan market that keys off Libor. As much as that’s a really big number ($10 trillion), it is trivial compared to the relevant derivatives. From the FSA letter to Barclays:

   The Eurodollar futures contract traded on the CME in Chicago (which is the largest interest rate futures contract by volume in the world) has US dollar LIBOR as its reference rate. The value of volume of that contract traded in 2011 was over 564 trillion US dollars.[..]

Devil’s advocates have also argued that while Barclays submitted improper Libor rates, there’s no evidence they influenced the rates. I read the FSA document quite differently.

Recall that (so far) we have two phases of activity: one from 2005 to 2007, in which derivatives traders at Barclays would lean on the Submitters on a regular basis to place bids that would help improve the profits of positions they had on, and a later phase, during the crisis, where Barclays felt its peers were submitting lowball figures to the daily fixings and it was getting bad press for being an outlier, and it went to posting what it though were competitive, as in artificially low, data.

The Big Losers in the Libor Rate Manipulation

by Barry Ritholz at The Big Picture

Local Governments Which Entered Into Interest Rate Swaps Got Scalped

We know that the big banks conspired to manipulate Libor rates, with the approval of government authorities.

We know that the Libor manipulation effected the world’s largest market – interest rate derivatives.

But who are the biggest victims?

Sometimes the big banks manipulated the Libor rates up, and sometimes down.  Different groups of people got hurt depending which way the rates were gamed.

Atrios thinks that British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is Stupid

At one point in The Godfather Part III, Michael Corleone sagely remarks: “Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” It was this lesson that George Osborne, as so often in his political career, forgot this week. After his aides were forced to “clarify” that he had never alleged that Ed Balls was personally involved in the Libor scandal (rather that he had “questions to answer”, a distinction without a difference if ever there was one), opinion is hardening among Conservative MPs that the Chancellor has overreached himself.

In a fascinating piece in today’s Times (£), Sam Coates and Roland Watson collate a series of off-the-record barbs from Tory backbenchers. One MP describes Osborne’s obsession with the alleged role of Balls and “Whitehall sources” in the scandal as a “red herring”, adding: “There was no smoking gun.” Another opines: “People want us to sort out the effing banks, not worry about what Ed Balls might have said four years ago.” Osborne’s dual role as Chancellor and chief Tory strategist is also called into question (the increasing view among Tory MPs is that he isn’t good at either job). One MP comments: “When are we going to get a Chancellor who is not part time? You can’t run the sixth largest economy in the world with a mate-ocracy.”

Hard to disagree with that.