In case you forgot your bankster overlords – free of fear thanks to Obama, Holder, and the NSA - are continuing to rig markets, here is yet another scandal. Wall Street has gone beyond rigging LIBOR, Swaps, and the Oil market to include the currency market.
Traders at some of the world’s biggest banks manipulated benchmark foreign-exchange rates used to set the value of trillions of dollars of investments, according to five dealers with knowledge of the practice.
Employees have been front-running client orders and rigging WM/Reuters rates by pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set, said the current and former traders, who requested anonymity because the practice is controversial. Dealers colluded with counterparts to boost chances of moving the rates, said two of the people, who worked in the industry for a total of more than 20 years.
It’s so esoteric, does it even matter?
“The price mechanism is the anchor of our entire economic system,” said Tom Kirchmaier, a fellow in the financial-markets group at the London School of Economics. “Any rigging of the price mechanism leads to a misallocation of capital and is extremely costly to society.”
Is there no regulation for this “anchor of our entire economic system?”
Sixteen of the largest banks, including Barclays, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Deutsche Bank (DBK), signed a voluntary code of conduct for foreign-exchange and money-market dealers in 2001 that was later included as an annex to guidelines issued by the Bank of England in November 2011.
The BOE’s Non-Investment Products Code, which some banks use in contracts with clients, states “caution should be taken so that customers’ interests are not exploited when financial intermediaries trade for their own accounts.” It also says that “manipulative practices by banks with each other or with clients constitute unacceptable trading behavior.”
It’s hard to believe a voluntary code of conduct didn’t stop this behavior from happening. What is so curiously ironic about the government’s continued failure to respond to wrongdoing in the financial services industry is that the entire capitalist system is built on incentives yet law enforcement has done absolutely nothing to disincentivize illegal and corrupt behavior. Physician heal thyself!