By Simon Johnson. For more discussion of these issues, listen to NPR’s All Things Considered, July 7, 2012.
On Monday, Bob Diamond – the CEO of Barclays, one of the largest banks in the world – was supposedly the indispensable man, with his supporters claiming he was the only person who could see that global megabank through a growing scandal. On Tuesday morning Mr. Diamond resigned and the stock market barely blinked – in fact, Barclays’ stock was up 0.3 percent. As Charles de Gaulle supposedly remarked, “the cemeteries are full of indispensable men.”
Mr. Diamond’s fall was spectacular and complete. It was also entirely appropriate.
Dennis Kelleher of Better Markets – a financial reform advocacy group – summarized the situation nicely in an interview with the BBC World Service on Tuesday. The controversy that brought down Mr. Diamond had to do with deliberate and now acknowledged deception by Barclays’ staff with regard to the data they reported for Libor – the London Interbank Offered Rate (with the abbreviation pronounced Lie-Bore). Mr. Kelleher was blunt: the issue in question is “Lie More” not Libor. (See also this post on his blog, making the point that this impacts credit transactions with a face value of at least $800 trillion.) Continue reading