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British investigation of Barclays should be an example in America

Jul 10, 2012

The British are far more upset with the LIBOR scandal than their American counterparts. Perhaps it is because Barclays is located in "The City," rather than in New York. It is not likely that any action will be taken by Mr. Bernanke and his employees in Congress, unless the people really demand it.

So let's keep blowing the trumpets until the Wall Street of Jericho falls.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/business/barclays-case-opens-a-window-on-wall-st-fair-game.html?_r=1

By now the world knows that Barclays manipulated the most widely used benchmark rate, the London interbank offered rate. But Barclays is just one member of the cozy club that sets the Libor....

Manipulating the Libor is a big deal because it affects the cost of money for almost everyone. The Libor is used to set rates on mortgages, credit cards and all manner of loans, personal and commercial. The amount of money affected by the phony rates is at least $500 trillion, British regulators have estimated....

One of the most revealing exchanges in the Barclays documents came when a bank official tried to describe why Barclays’s improper postings were not as problematic as those of other banks. “We’re clean but we’re dirty-clean, rather than clean-clean,” an executive said in a phone conversation. Talk about defining deviancy down.

“Dirty clean” versus “clean clean” pretty much sums up Wall Street’s view of cheating. If everybody does it, nobody should be held accountable if caught. Alas, many United States regulators and prosecutors seem to have bought into this argument....

It’s hard to believe, in the wake of the Libor mess, that Wall Street and its supporters in Congress would continue to battle against price transparency in any market. Then again, that’s precisely what they did after the credit crisis.

With each new financial imbroglio, the gulf widens between Main Street’s opinion of Wall Street and the industry’s view of itself.


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Dr. Stephen Jones


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