After resigning as CEO of Barclays this morning, Bob Diamond may yet exact some revenge on the government when he testifies tomorrow in front of the Treasury Select Committee.
There are two LIBOR fixing scandals – the first involves traders massaging the settling of LIBOR rates a few basis points, mere hundreths of a percent, off market reality to flatter their trading books. It appears to have been going on for years and not just at Barclays. This was not so petty corruption.
The second LIBOR fixing scandal is of a different order altogether – it involves the wholesale systematic substantial misrepresentation of true LIBOR, with the encouragement of the Treasury, the FSA and in particular the Bank of England. The policy was to under-report LIBOR rates at much lower levels than were actually trading in the market. This deliberate policy was to cover-up the increased risks to the UK banking system revealed by higher LIBOR rates.
It is emerging that Gordon Brown’s economic adviser in Downing Street, Shriti Vadera, an ex-UBS investment banker, circulated a paper on ”Reducing Libor” at the height of the banking crisis, which she argued would be “a major contribution to the stability of the banking system and to the health of the economy”.
That message will have gone out to the Treasury in Whitehall, the regulators and the Bank of England. They in turn will have given a nod and a wink to the investment banks. Bob Diamond is reportedly furious that the “lowballing” of LIBOR rates by Barclays – which was explicitly encouraged by the authorities to stabilise already panicked markets – is being used against Barclays. Bob Diamond is expected to testify tomorrow that the Bank of England’s deputy governor Paul Tucker encouraged the “lowballing”.
The politicisation and manipulation of interest rates is ongoing even after Gordon Brown and Shriti Vadera are long gone. The £275 billion Quantitative Easing (QE) programme implemented by Mervyn King with George Osborne’s blessing is designed to artificially lower interest rates. We currently have a false market in Gilts, it is arguably the biggest bubble since the South Sea Bubble. It is cheating pensioners and savers of income on an unprecedented scale. This is a robbery organised from within the Bank of England …