Around the world, explains Bloomberg, interest rates on an estimated $360 trillion of financial instruments are based on a rate determined in London at 10am every morning by representatives of 19 banks meeting under the auspices of the century-old British Bankers’ Association. What the bankers are deciding on is Libor, the London interbank offered rate, based on what each participating bank says it would have to pay to borrow money from another bank.
In what is a fascinating story, an article in Bloomberg Markets magazine tells how the unelected and lightly regulated Libor panelists have come under increasing scrutiny from money managers such as Tim Price, who helps oversee more than $1.5 billion as director of investment at PFP Group LLP, who say Libor is biased in favor of the bankers who submit the quotes.
“It’s a kind of Wizard of Oz surrealist nightmare,” he says.
“… The whole system is rigged. The banks are able to say, ‘Let’s just collude and set rates, and we have the sanction of the authorities to do it.’”
It is a piece worth reading if you don’t much mind losing even more respect for the banking profession.