British banking group gives up LIBOR power

The image of Queen Elizabeth II on a 20 sterling note is seen between euro banknotes in London.

A group representing British banks is giving up its responsibility for setting a key global interest rate. The British Bankers Association (BBA) will no longer control LIBOR -- the London Interbank Offered Rate. That's the benchmark for hundreds of trillions of dollars in mortgages, student loans and other transactions around the world.

LIBOR has been engulfed in scandal for a number of months, after the British bank Barclays was fined $450 million back in July for rigging LIBOR. Since then, more banks have come under investigation.

On Friday, the British regulator reports on the future of LIBOR, and it is expected to strip the BBA of its responsibility for LIBOR.

"It seems to have come to the conclusion," reports Marketplace's Stephen Beard, "that it can't be trusted to supervise this key benchmark, which they can make money out of."

The decision may end up being a moot point, as there are questions whether the rate will even still be used a few months down the line.

Financial consultant James Edsberg says scrapping the rate entirely is unlikely. "This has been the benchmark which is in loan documentation and has been the reference point for financial products all over the world," he says. "It's about improving how it's calculated, not throwing it out all together."

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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