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03/18/2013

Are Interest Rate Fixings Fixed? An Analysis of Libor and Euribor


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The London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor) are two key market benchmark interest rates used in a plethora of financial contracts with notional amounts running into the hundreds of trillions of dollars. The integrity of the rate-setting process for these benchmarks has been under intense scrutiny ever since the first reports of attempts to manipulate these rates surfaced in 2007. In this paper, we analyze Libor and Euribor rate submissions by the individual panel banks and shed light on the underlying manipulation incentives by quantifying their potential effects on the final rate set (the “fixing”).


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Furthermore, we explicitly take into account the possibility of collusion between several market participants. Our setup allows us to quantify such effects for the actual rate-setting process that is in place at present, and compare it to several alternative rate-setting procedures. We find that such alternative rate fixings, and larger sample sizes, could significantly reduce the effect of manipulation. Furthermore, we discuss the role of the particular questions asked of the panel banks, which are different for Libor and Euribor, and examine the need for a transaction database to validate individual submissions.

–Alexander Eisl, Rainer Jankowitschy, WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business); Marti G. Subrahmanyamz, New York University, Stern School of Business

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