Daily News: August 17, 2012

Bair: LIBOR And The Folly of Deregulation

According to a Fortune article authored by Sheila Bair, a lot of fingers are pointing in a lot of directions in the LIBOR price-fixing affair. Tim Geithner is pointing his finger at the Bank of England. Republicans in Congress are pointing their fingers at Geithner. The big banks are pointing their fingers at one another. But one party to this fiasco is not a regulator or a bank but a law: the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA).

Bair says the folly of the CFMA can be seen in how the New York Federal Reserve Bank reacted when alerted to potential rate rigging and fraud by Barclays’ employees in 2007 and 2008. Bair notes that it wasn’t until the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which had no apparent jurisdiction, led an investigation that unearthed the LIBOR scandal.

Bair said, fortunately for us, there was a smart, alert CFTC enforcement attorney by the name of Vince McGonagle, who in 2008 read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the suspected gaming of LIBOR. Unlike the New York Fed, he had no insider tips or monitors present at the big derivatives dealers to help him see what was going on.

To read the Fortune article, click here.