A majority of investors surveyed around the world believe that the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), currently the subject of scrutiny and investigation everywhere from England to the U.S. to the European Commission (EC), will be gone within five years, and a more tightly regulated benchmark will take its place.
Bloomberg reported Friday that confidence in the interbank rate has been so damaged, according to 44% of respondents to a Sept. 4 Bloomberg survey, that a new benchmark will boot it from the marketplace. Others, however, are more cynical, with 34% saying LIBOR will linger just as it is. A substantial 22% said they didn’t know.
After Barclays was hit with $480 million in penalties for its part in manipulating the interbank rate, authorities dug deeper to see how far the rot in the system went. Countries all over the world are investigating their own interbank interest rates and confidence in the system has fallen, after it was shown that banks had colluded on pushing the rate up or down depending on how it would best profit them.
The scandal surrounding the rate that affects everything from credit card rates to mortgages has hit the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) hard. In 2008, the Bank for International Settlements expressed concern over manipulation of the rate to the BBA, which failed to take action on the information.
The turmoil over LIBOR has also reached as far as the Bank of England (BoE) and the British Financial Services Authority (FSA), as accusations have surfaced that, despite early indications of trouble, they did not do enough to halt the practice.
“The LIBOR scandal should not be something to be hidden under the carpet because it affects the correct functioning of financial markets and the economy as a whole,” said Mario Cribari in the report. Cribari, head of asset management at Veco Invest in Lugano, Switzerland, was one of the poll respondents. He said that governments are attempting intervention “to calm public anger.”
While the number of respondents believing LIBOR would be supplanted by something else was consistent across Asia, the U.S. and Europe, the skeptics were outspoken about their doubts.
Oliver Attwater, a London-based North America equity analyst for British Airways Pensions Investment Management, said in the report, “There will be the traditional U.K. process of an inquiry that makes few meaningful recommendations, which will then be further watered down to the point that any changes will be both minimal and satisfactory to nobody.”