Liebor, the Biggest Scam in History?
The LIBOR scandal, called LieMore by a witty commentator, involving the manipulation of LIBOR rates by Barclays Bank is only beginning to have an impact, but already some have dubbed it the biggest scandal in the history of finance. So is it?
LIBOR (London InterBank Offered Rate) is the index of interest rates banks charge each other. It used to be one of those highly relevant, but completely unknowns, until it became a concept of household fame in 2008. At the height of the Credit Crunch in the fall of 2008 a peak in LIBOR showed banks were unwilling to lend to each other, forcing first the financial and then also the real economy to a grinding halt.
LIBOR is set every day by the world’s biggest banks. They call in to report the rates at which they borrow from each other. The highest and lowest 25% of rates are discarded and the rest are used to calculate the average. This number is then used as a benchmark for interest rates all over the world. For instance, almost 60 percent of prime adjustable rate mortgages, and nearly 100 percent of subprime ones, were indexed to LIBOR in 2008. One estimate has it that 350 trillion worth of loans and derivatives are indexed to LIBOR.
So when a couple of bankers decide to manipulate this rate, it has immediate and profound consequences worldwide. Just one basis point (one one-hundredth of a percent) difference would mean 35 billion to be paid more or less on a yearly basis.
As a result, it is said, the banks involved face an existential threat: class action suits will follow and clearly the sums involved will quickly overwhelm the banks.
Whether this is so, remains to be seen. BP destroyed the Gulf, but just coughed up 20 billion and never looked back. It is well known that banks are really, really very important to us. We couldn’t exist without them, that’s why we have to cough up trillions upon trillions to bail them out.
The scandal breaks
The story broke, when Barclays was fined 450 million by regulators in America and London. Their boss, Bob Diamond, initially shrugged it off and declared business as usual. The same idiot declared before the Treasury Select Committee in January last year: “There was a period of remorse and apology for banks and I think that period needs to be over.” I must have been elsewhere when this period actually happened.
In Holland, when a single mum on the dole rips off the system for a few thousand, she’ll be tossed into jail for a few months and she’ll be paying back everything. With interest.
Clearly, Bob Diamond, and a great number of other bankers too, should have been incarcerated a long time ago, but here too, he gets away with resigning.
Now the blame game is beginning. Yesterday Diamond declared that the Bank of England’s second in command Paul Tucker made him do it. LIBOR was so high, the creditworthiness of the banks was being doubted. This was badly exacerbating the Credit Crunch and Tucker proposed a simple solution. He, in turn, was pressured by influential Whitehall types.
Meanwhile, JPMorgan, Citibank, Bank of America and probably most other banks involved in LIBOR are being investigated and are undoubtedly involved. This goes to the heart of the banking cartel. Barclays was named as being at the epicenter of the small group of firms that a fascinating study discovered to own most companies in the world, a few years back.
But in a classic case of double think, Diamond simultaneously declared it was ‘just a group of 14 rogue traders’.
The whole system is involved. All the major banks, BoE and the British Government are already implicated. But undoubtedly the FED, the ECB and and a number of Governments were at least aware of what was going on.
The Banking System is One and involves all these players, including the press and the academic world. By shifting blame amongst each other they distract us from this simple truth. If they are all to blame, none are to blame.
So is this the biggest scandal ever?
Finance itself is the scandal. That $200k mortgage that we are paying $300k interest over in thirty years was printed the minute we took out the loan. The 450 billion the taxpayer is sweating to cough up each year to service the National Debt while the Government could easily print some interest free credit or even debt free money is another side of this coin.
This is just the umpteenth banking scandal, but people simply cannot yet get their head around the fact that bankers are insane vampires per definition. That the banking system is one cartel ruling the entire planet and owned by a small group of centuries old families known as the Money Power or Illuminati.
That we should be getting our money out of the system now, lock up all these disturbed maniacs and print some interest free cash.
Perhaps this particular little scandal will help them understand. But I’m not holding my breath.