Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Diamond's exit will open a can of financial worms

Bob Diamond
As I wrote on Thursday, Barclays boss Bob Diamond was "living on borrowed time" so there is little to examine in his inevitable resignation other than to say it frees him up to be more frank when he goes to the Commons tomorrow.
As Guido Fawkes establishes today the ramifications of manipulating the key Libor interest rate downwards is much more explosive than pushing it upwards.
In the latter making a fast buck was the goal; but in the former the intention was to make the bank concerned - Barclays is unlikely to have been alone - appear more financially secure than it was.
Keeping interest rates low - which is after all the aim of quantitative easing - in a squeeze makes sense. It may prove to be that City institutions - perhaps even the Bank of England itself - gave a nod and a wink to such practices.
However there are casualties - namely savers of all colours from OAPs scraping by to City investment funds.
It is one thing to suffer a drop in income in the natural swing of interest rate forces; but quite another if the numbers are being fiddled.
Ed Miliband is wrong to press for a Leveson-style inquiry. Opening Pandora's Box could expose the degree of Labour's Brown-nosing of the City of London when in government. The Libor scandal happened on its watch.
The international ramifications of the furore will excite the ever-litigious Americans; class actions will follow.

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What do you think? GC