The bankers at the tip top of the food chain (literally) have been caught red-handed with their collective hands in our collective cookie jars, to put it another way.
Last week, Barclays’ Bank was fined $450-million for manipulating Libor (the London Inter Banking Offered Rate). This is the rate through which banks lend. The rate is agreed upon every day by a select group of banks, and is considered a “global benchmark worth hundreds of trillions of pounds.” The slightest deviation in the rate can cost a bank billions.
Libor along with Euribor are the central mechanisms for setting global interest rates for a vast array of financial services and products.
Libor is the largest, operating over 10 currencies, which includes determining the rate of US dollars in the form of Eurodollars.
Traders in the main financial markets in London, New York and Japan colluded to set inter bank rate, thus making either huge profits or covering-up their losses.
Traders like low interest rates so they can buy cheap bonds and make quick speculative profits. The retails side prefers high interest rates, which can help savers make higher return on their savings. Between the two positions is a “sacrosanct” wall which prevents either side from fraudulent collusion. At least that’s the idea…
Last week, Barclays’ Bank admitted their bankers broke through this so-called “sacrosanct” wall, and that there was collusion in the “fixing” of inter bank rates. (Translation: The bankers are behaving like the mafia)
The US watchdog the CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) said it wasn’t just Barclays’ traders who were involved in the market manipulation but the bank’s top bosses.
‘...as a result of instructions from Barclays’ senior managemnet, the Bank routinely made artificially low LIBOR submissions to protect Barclays’ reputation from negative market and media perceptions concerning Barclays’ financial condition.’
Leaked e-mails between traders revealed the staggering level of collusion between traders and bank staff.
‘Dude. I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I’m opening a bottle of Bollinger.’
While the bankers bashed the Bolly, the public picked up the tab.
That investment bankers are corrupt, psychopathic thieves of the lowest order is nothing new, but the Libor scandal shows that the whole process of rate fixing is not dependent on the realities of market values, but on the arbitrary say so of investment bankers!!!
In other words, the whole of Capitalism is based on a house of cards, which are, at last, about to come tumbling down.
A friend, with ties to the financial industry, recently said that the public’s relationship with the banks was similar to a put-upon wife with an abusive and violent husband. The worse the husband behaves, the more the wife forgives. Until one day, something snaps, and the wife realizes her husband is a brutal bully, a monster, a low and despicable human, and there has been no real love in their relationship on his side. ‘One day, the public will similarly wake-up and realize the banks have been brutalizing them for centuries.’
If not NOW, when? It’s now of never with this one. It’s off the scale of scandal. This is a real “lock them up and throw away the key” moment.
This is what must be kept in focus as the Libor scandal begins to expose the scale of the other banks involved in similar fraudulent activity. At present, sixteen other banks are suspected of involvement. Already, a blame-game has commenced with the current Conservative government attempting to lay the blame for the Libor scandal at the previous Labour government’s door. All of this is of secondary importance.
Here’s the take-away: Governments have colluded with banks to keep the public imprisoned with debt. Cheap loans, credit cards, mortgages, and unemployment, are the core values of Western-Liberal-Capitalist society, which is based on keeping its citizens impoverished and debt-ridden. We can only hope that the Libor scandal will lead to the irrevocable damage of the banking and finacial industry’s reputation, which will in turn lead to the nationalization of banks and strict regulation of the financial industry.