LIBOR, the world’s most popular floating-rate index number, has undoubtedly lost reliability in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2008, news sources began to cast doubt on “the world’s most reliable number,” and subsequent investigations revealed that contributor banks, in fact, manipulated LIBOR rates. Lawsuits filed by lenders, municipalities, individuals, and a host of other plaintiffs ensued. However, what at first appeared to be the largest antitrust case in history has since been whittled down. It remains to be seen what the effect LIBOR manipulation will have on current and future lawsuits as judges across the country continue to rule.
I. OVERVIEW -
A. What is LIBOR? -
LIBOR--the London InterBank Offered Rate--is the estimated interest rate banks are willing to loan to each other on an unsecured basis. The British Bankers' Association ("BBA"), a trade association comprised of over 200 member banks for the banking and financial services sector, selects a panel of banks to contribute (the "Contributor Panel") for each currency. Currently, LIBOR is calculated in ten currencies with fifteen maturities for each currency. The Contributor Panel's submission is based on the response to the following question, which has been in place since 1998: "At what rate could you borrow funds, were you to do so by asking for and then accepting inter-bank offers in a reasonable market size just prior to 11 am?" As such, the interest rates are purely estimates. By 11:10 am London time each business day, the Contributor Panel submits its estimated interest rates to Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters then ranks each rate and excludes the highest and lowest quartiles. The middle two quartiles are averaged to get the LIBOR fix. By 11:30 am London time, Thomson Reuters publishes the rates as well as each Contributor Panel bank's submitted rates along with the name of the bank. As of July 8, 2013, the New York Stock Exchange Euronext Rate Administration Limited is the administrator for LIBOR.
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