Seeking a Benchmark that Can't Be Manipulated

Seeking a Benchmark that Can’t be Manipulated

In 1986, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) created the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) in response to the need for a reliable, unified benchmark rate for calculating loans between British banks. It soon developed into one of the primary global interest rate benchmarks for debt instruments ranging from government bonds to home mortgages, credit cards, student loans and many others. Based on a basket of five currencies—the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc and Japanese Yen—LIBOR was relied upon by U.S. financial institutions for rating trillions of dollars’ worth of debt. But a little more than two years after the catastrophic LIBOR rate-fixing scandal broke, U.S. regulators are poised to leave LIBOR in favor of an alternative benchmark. Figuring out how to set the interest rate for $160 trillion in U.S. financial products and debt is no simple task.

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