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巴克莱和Libor的(不)诚信委员会

巴克莱和Libor的(不)诚信委员会

Stephen Gandel 2012年07月27日
主持制定Libor的英国银行家协会今年3月成立了一个行业委员会来调查判定Libor是否遭到了操纵。然而,讽刺的是,眼下爆出操纵Libor丑闻的巴克莱银行也是这个委员会的成员,而且时至今日仍然没有被踢出去。

    一个夫妻档创办了一个网站,专门揭批华尔街的丑闻。这个网站上关于伦敦银行同业拆借利率(Libor)和巴克莱(Barclays)的最新爆料让人哭笑不得,却又担心不已。

    巴克莱最近承认包括高管在内的多名雇员参与了操纵Libor。而仅仅在3个月之前,主持制定这一重要利率的英国银行家协会(British Bankers' Association,BBA)组织了一个指导委员会,负责判定Libor定价是否存在问题。当时巴克莱受到调查的传闻已经广为人知,但它还是被指定加入了这个委员会。

    英国银行家协会在宣布委员会成立时宣称,“有关方面”也“参与”了该项目。既然如此,就应该有人提醒一下英国银行家协会:巴克莱也许并不适合出现在Libor的诚信指导委员会中。这一事件让人们再次怀疑银行是否真正有决心改正Libor的问题。

    英国银行家协会发言人称对Libor的审查工作还在进行中,目前为止,巴克莱仍未被踢出指导委员会。她还说,该委员会提出建议的具体日期尚未确定,不过由于“近来的事态发展”,日期已经推后。

    英国银行家协会其实并不需要监管机构告诉他们Libor出了问题,而巴克莱就是原因之一。关于巴克莱到底是一尘不染还是白璧微瑕的著名讨论就是出自巴克莱和该官员的对话。

    2008年底,英国银行家协会吹嘘自己已经实施了强化的治理和“审查”程序,确保Libor不会被操纵。然而巴尔的摩市在对巴克莱和其它银行的集体诉讼中称:对Libor的操纵一直持续到2010年年中。这些天来,Libor仍然用于为各种消费者及商业信贷设定利率,但是受到了真正的审查。大家也许会想,这下银行总该老实了吧,Libor应该可信了吧。您还是太天真了。《纽约时报》(New York Times )的一篇新文章检查了最晚一直到今年6月份银行所递交的Libor数据,结果发现仍然有值得怀疑的地方。

    所以如果想要改善Libor的信誉,指派巴克莱去参与增强其诚信的委员会恐怕根本没什么好处。但真正的问题不在于巴克莱,Libor的问题更深远。本周早些时候,我的同事Nin-Hai Tseng 撰文细数了修正Libor定价缺陷的四大途径(fix还有操纵的意思——译注)。

    目前的Libor定价形式不再可行,其真正原因和华尔街问题不断的原因一样,它和自我监管的失败密不可分。失败之前虽然可行,而一旦失败就再也无法修复。还记得伯尼•麦道夫吗,对,就是那个大骗子,他曾经领导过一个小组,目的是实现纳斯达克交易公司的自我监管。我完全相信,他有足够的信誉担任那个重要的角色。

    巴克莱是唯一承认参与了操纵Libor的银行,但几乎所有参与Libor定价的银行都在接受调查。只要银行参与进来,那就是自我监管,英国银行协会的改革就无法取信于人。唯一可行的途径就是引入某种程度的外部监督,巴克莱已经同意这个方案,其它银行也有望跟进。

    看来这是Libor丑闻到目前为止给出的重要信息之一。自我监管的市场几乎总是会逐步过渡到实质上的监管。那么何不从一开始就这么干呢?

    A husband and wife team who have launched a website critical of Wall Street practices have uncovered an ironic, and troubling, tidbit about Libor and Barclays.

    Just three months before Barclays admitted that numerous employees at the bank including top executives participated in manipulating Libor, and long after it was widely known to be under investigation, the British Bankers' Association, which oversees the key lending rate, named Barclays to a steering committee in charge of deciding if there was a problem with the rate.

    In announcing the committee, the BBA said that the "Authorities" were "engaged" with the initiative. So someone should have tipped off the BBA to the fact that Barclays was probably not the best bank to put on the Libor's integrity steering committee. It once again raises the question of how much bankers are really determined to correct the problem with Libor.

    A BBA spokesperson said the review of Libor was ongoing. And so far, she said, Barclays has not been removed from the steering committee leading the review. She said there is no date as to when the steering committee would make its suggestions, but that date has been pushed back due to "recent events."

    The BBA, of course, didn't need regulators to tell them that there was a problem with Libor and that Barclays was part of it. The famous discussion of whether Barclays was either clean-clean or clean-dirty was between Barclays and a BBA official.

    In late 2008, the BBA trumpeted that it had enacted enhanced governance and "scrutiny" procedures to insure Libor was not being manipulated. Yet, Baltimore's class-action suit against Barclays and others claims that Libor manipulation continued well into 2010. With all the actual scrutiny of Libor these days, you would assume that the banks are finally playing it straight with the rate, and that Libor, which is still regularly used to set interest on all kinds of consumer and business loans, should be believed. And even there you could be wrong. A recent article from the New York Times looked at the Libor submissions banks made as recently as June, and found reason to question them.

    So if you were trying to make Libor believable, naming Barclays to a group that would strengthen its integrity probably won't help. But Barclays isn't really the problem. There's a bigger problem with Libor. Earlier this week, my colleague Nin-Hai Tseng wrote a story detailing four ways to fix Libor (in the good way).

    The real reason Libor will never work, though, in its present form, and why Wall Street always runs into problems, has to do with the failure of self-regulation. It works until it doesn't, and then once it doesn't there is no way to fix it. Remember that Bernie Madoff, Bernie Madoff, once headed up a panel that was supposed to self-regulate Nasdaq trading firms. I'm sure he completed that role with integrity.

    Barclays is the only bank to have admitted it participated in manipulation. But nearly every bank involved in the Libor process is under investigation. So as long as you were going include the banks, which is the definition of self-regulation, there was no way the BBA's reforms were ever going to be viewed as credible. The only way to do that is to impose some level of outside monitoring, which is exactly what Barclays has agreed to and others are likely to as well.

    And that seems to be one of the key take-aways of the Libor scandal so far. Self-regulating markets are almost always forced to morph into actual regulated ones. So why not go that way from the start.

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