By Simon Johnson
On June 1, 2008, Timothy F. Geithner – then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – sent an e-mail to Mervyn A. King and Paul Tucker, then respectively governor and executive director of markets at the Bank of England. In his note, Mr. Geithner transmitted recommendations (dated May 27, 2008) from the New York Fed’s “Markets and Research and Statistics Groups” regarding “Recommendations for Enhancing the Credibility of Libor,” the London Interbank Offered Rate.
The recommendations accurately summarized the problems with procedures surrounding the construction of Libor – the most important reference interest rate in the world – and proposed some sensible alternative approaches.
This New York Fed memo stands out as a model of clear thinking about the deep governance problems that allowed Libor to become rigged.
At the same time, the timing and content of the memo raises troubling questions regarding the Fed’s own involvement in the Libor scandal – both then and now. Continue reading