It’s hard to see what is news about the latest Libor news but it exists so let’s paste it here:
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc managers condoned and participated in the manipulation of global interest rates, indicating that wrongdoing extended beyond the four traders the bank has fired.
In an instant-message conversation in late 2007, Jezri Mohideen, then the bank’s head of yen products in Singapore, instructed colleagues in the U.K. to lower RBS’s submission to the London interbank offered rate that day, according to two people with knowledge of the discussion. No reason was given in the message as to why he wanted a lower bid. The rate-setter agreed, submitting the number Mohideen sought, the people said.
One way to conceptualize Libor is that it’s the interest rate at which banks lend to each other on an unsecured basis. This is fine as far as it goes but late 2007 was farther than it went; by that point banks were skittish about unsecured lending and Mervyn King was already conceptualizing Libor as the interest rate at which banks don’t lend to each other. But of course there are lots of rates at which banks don’t lend to each other; 714.03% per annum is, for example, a perfectly good interest rate at which I will assert banks don’t lend to each other. So King’s formulation insufficiently specifies.
But that means you need a new concept! It just does; you can’t avoid it by saying “well just try harder to say what rate you borrow at when you don’t borrow.” How do you get the new concept? Beats me; the CFTC has listed factors that were kosher to consider and they include prior Libor submissions, actual and expected central bank decisions, and “research documents,” which are all, like, things you can look at, but which are none of them information about rates you can borrow at.1Read more »
A trader at RBS has admitted to making a fat finger trade in the EUR/CHF pair Monday, a spokesperson for the bank told Reuters. The error caused a series of algorithmic trades from other traders to flood the market, sending the pair spiking for a short period of time. The trades which took place on the EBS foreign exchange platform sent the currency pair to spike to levels just shy of 1.21, the highest levels seen in a long time…EBS daily charts showed that the euro surged to 1.20928 francs from around 1.2015 within three minutes on Monday as the algorithmic traders went berserk…Initial reports had claimed that it was RBS’s algorithms that caused the spike. However, those reports were later proven wrong. It turns out that it was a simple fat finger trade that caused the spike and algos reacted to send the pair even higher. [MarketWatch, Reuters]
The bad news is that 600 of the Queen’s corgis are being let go. The good news, while it probably comes as little solace to those who will no longer receive birthday chickens, is that 300 or so new ones will be hired in their place. Read more »
Sir Philip Hampton said investors who owned RBS shares before its £45.5bn bailout in October 2008 were likely to be dead before the bank’s value recovered to anything close to its pre-crisis level. “I don’t think shareholders wealth is likely to be restored any time in my lifetime or some lifetimes beyond,” said Sir Philip, who was brought in as the bank’s chairman in January 2009. [Telegraph]
Earlier today the Royal Bank of Scotland reported a loss of £2 billion ($3.13 billion) for last year, which CEO Stephen Hester noted was in line with the estimates he projected in his five-year turnaround plan for the bank. To that end, Hester told reporters that contrary to popular belief, his team is working quite hard, “defusing the biggest-ever time bomb put in a banking balance sheet” and so, looking at it that way, “we are making progress.” Progress which should be rewarded monetarily, which is why bonuses were in fact distributed this year, to the ire of the many, many critics giving Hester guff for keeping his people moderately happy or at least not homicidal. Having said that, those thinking the firm has the money to not only pay bonuses but raise base pay *and* bring in dancing chickens should think again. Read more »
Breaking his silence after the furore over his near £1m bonus and Fred Goodwin’s knighthood, Mr. Hester emailed employees admitting that such political and media attention makes the job more difficult. “There is no doubt that our position in the spotlight makes the job harder. But the best way to deal with it is to prove the critics wrong. To be purposeful, calm, and do our jobs to the best of our ability…We can’t control the outside world– whether the economic environment or the political one,” Mr. Hester, who noted RBS was still in a “loss-making phase” said. “That’s not unique to us. But if ever something has been proven over our last three years of history, it’s this – we can successfully overcome great obstacles. [Telegraph]
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