Tags: Barclays, LIBOR, Liborgate, municipal bonds, swaps
There is a line forming to the left for people to beat up on Libor-manipulating banks, and it’s a long line so your beating time is limited and you have to make the most of it if you want anyone to care. Today’s the day for U.S. municipal borrowers. How’d they do?
The municipalities are important because they are the unusual case of a large class of politically sympathetic customers who would have been systematically disadvantaged by low Libor rates, as opposed to you and that mortgage that you won’t shut up about, on which Liborgate probably saved you money. Stephen Gandel nicely sums up the situation here: the problem was that, in astonishing droves, U.S. cities and counties borrowed at variable rates, paying their own idiosyncratic floating SIFMA rate, but they then swapped to fixed, receiving a floating rate based on Libor. This led to badness, as muni credit blew up and SIFMA spiked, while bank credit blew up and Libor mysteriously didn’t, because of the manipulating. So cities who had expected to pay a fixed 5% or whatever a year ended up paying 5% plus the suddenly widening gap between SIFMA and Libor.
Here is a graph I made you, comparing the SIFMA rate that munis paid to their bondholders versus a proxy for the Libor-based rate that they received from their banks*:
So that sort of looks okay outside of 2008, which looks sort of … not okay. Here is perhaps a more suggestive thing: Read more »
Tags: Bank of England, Banks, Barclays, Fed, LIBOR, Liborgate
The Libor scandal presents a whole range of questions from the very micro “how much did I lose on my mortgage”* through the micro yet fantastically large “what kind of total damages are floating around in lawsuits” past the pseudo-philosophical “how can I ever trust the financial system again”** all the way up to the metaphysical “what is a price?” Somewhere in the middle realm there is a good set of questions of “what did regulators know and when did they know it and what did they do and why didn’t they do it?” The Times and Reuters get to those questions today and they’re unsurprisingly awkward.
The awkwardness starts with word choice. The verb “fix” is in market usage a bit of a contranym, in that “fixing” something, when that something is a price, can either solve or create a problem with it. No doubt the Fed regrets this meeting title:
In early 2008, questions about whether Libor reflected banks’ true borrowing costs became more public. The Bank for International Settlements published a paper raising the issue in March of that year, and an April 16 story in the Wall Street Journal cast doubts on whether banks were reporting accurate rates. Barclays said it met with Fed officials twice in March-April 2008 to discuss Libor.
According to the calendar of then New York Fed President, Timothy Geithner, who is now U.S. Treasury Secretary, it even held a “Fixing LIBOR” meeting between 2:30-3:00 pm on April 28, 2008. At least eight senior Fed staffers were invited.
“Let’s fix Libor,” said the Fed staffers, and so did a bunch of traders at Barclays, meaning … well, I was about to say meaning different things, but who knows? Reuters goes on: Read more »
Tags: Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Lawsuits, LIBOR, UBS
It’s no surprise that more Liborneriness is coming to a bank near you; with Barclays and UBS already pretty much having admitted wide-ranging Libor manipulation and Deutsche Bank seeming to be next up for a roasting. Maybe some people will go to jail, and certainly some more banks will pay fines, but also certainly those fines will be very very very small compared to the potential lawsuits. Because there are eight hundred quazillion dollars of Libor-referencing contracts, and if you screwed them up then in some loose theoretical way you owe money to everyone who got screwed without having any offsetting claims against anyone who benefited.
Now the US legal system being what it is the lawsuits long preceded the evidence of manipulation and there’s a big mishegas of a Libor lawsuit that’s been going on for years in New York. This suit looks a little quaint now, being based on the theory that all the banks got together in a room, smoked cigars, rubbed their hands together, and agreed to lower Libor for some unspecified nefarious purpose. Now we know that they all worked against each other to lower and/or raise Libor for a variety of clearly specified nefarious purposes,* until the crisis hit and they all started working independently to lower Libor for clearly specified and maybe public-spirited purposes. And the banks will tell you that themselves, in their motion in the case filed last week:
Plaintiffs themselves cite as the primary motive for the alleged false reports a desire by Defendants to hide their supposed financial weakness from each other and the public, which would naturally call for circumspection by such banks, not discussion and agreement among them.
See? We would never work together to manipulate Libor – we’re too sneaky for that. We’d prefer to lie to each other, too. Read more »
Tags: Barclays, Ben Bernanke, Bob Diamond, kind of thinking SMD would've been more appropriate in this context but that's neither here nor there, Nell Diamond, Twitter
While most offspring are typically not available for comment following the resignations, voluntary or otherwise, of their banker dads (lookin’ at you, Jimmy Cayne, Jr.), earlier today prolific Tweeter Nell Diamond had this to say to the Brits who have been cheering her father’s departure: “George Osborne and Ed Miliband you can go ahead and #HMD.” Read more »
Tags: Barclays, CFTC, fraud, FSA, LIBOR, like dude you're killing us
Good lord are these Barclays settlements juicy. Basically every day for two years one Barclays trader or another would send an email to their Libor submitter saying “hey let’s commit crimes, tons of crimes, hahahaha” and then they did. In pathetically colorful language:
Trader C requested low one month and three month US dollar LIBOR submissions … “If it’s not too late low 1m and 3m would be nice, but please feel free to say “no” … Coffees will be coming your way either way, just to say thank you for your help in the past few weeks”. A Submitter responded “Done … for you big boy”.
on 5 February 2008, Trader B (a US dollar Derivatives Trader) stated in a telephone conversation with Manager B that Barclays’ Submitter was submitting “the highest LIBOR of anybody [...] He’s like, I think this is where it should be. I’m like, dude, you’re killing us”.
Or tons more, but I found this one particularly poignant:
Submitter: “Hi All, Just as an FYI, I will be in noon’ish on Monday [...]”.
Trader B: “Noonish? Whos going to put my low fixings in? hehehe”
Submitter: “[...] [X or Y] will be here if you have any requests for the fixings”.
Like … Trader B was kidding right? I mean, in this one single case? He was making a joke about how he was constantly asking for low fixings and the submitter took him seriously? When you joke around about committing fraud and people take you seriously, that’s maybe a sign you should stop committing so much fraud. Read more »
Tags: bankruptcy, Barclays, Jamie Dimon, Jewish genes, Lehman Brothers, Optimism, Tim Geithner
How will you be spending your weekend? I know what I’ll be doing, which is reading all the Lehman bankruptcy documents. They’ve been online for a week or two and we’ve had some teasers today, covering how much all the big fish got paid and how much all the medium-sized fish in IBD got paid. Naturally those were the first things anyone noticed because, y’know, money. And money is important. But this industry isn’t just about money. It’s also about hope:
It’s about faith: Read more »
Tags: Barclays, Bob Diamond works hard for the money, competition, legit protesting getups that will haunt your dreams
The atmosphere at the [shareholder] meeting was hostile from the start and the speeches were repeatedly interrupted by hecklers. Bob Diamond was booed as soon as he stepped on the stage to take his seat, and when Chairman Agius said Barclays had “made progress” over the last two years in accepting that “remuneration levels across the industry have to adjust to the new reality,” the audience burst into laughter. But Mr. Agius defended Mr. Diamond’s £6.3 million ($10 million) pay for 2011, saying he met almost all his targets in a difficult market environment. Alison Carnwath, who is chairwoman of the remuneration committee on the board, also defended the pay decisions but acknowledged that it was “clear that this view is not shared by all shareholders.” [Dealbook]