Now, there is a new name in the interest scandal: You might have heard of LIBOR, EURIBOR,…… and other -ibor’s. The latest, according to Financial Times is NIBOR of Norway. STIBOR is Sweden’s contribution to this alphabet soup.
The Norwegian paper Aftenposten reported:
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In a letter to the Finanstilsynet [Finance Inspection] the Norwegian CB [said] that in addition to the written correspondence (quoted in extension below) [it] also has received similar disconcerting reports in meetings with foreign banks.
The investigation started after the Norges Bank, the country’s central bank, received emails from what it calls a “foreign bank” alleging market manipulation, which it then passed on, in August ,to the FSA.
Nordic countries had hitherto been looking at how to reform their interbank rates – on which large volumes of loans to households and companies are based – but the Norwegian probe is the first investigation by a regulator.
Emails obtained by the newspaper, Aftenposten, from an unnamed foreign bank points to the difference between various maturities of Nibor such as three, six and nine months.
Nibor is set by six Nordic banks: DNB, Danske Bank A/S (CPH:DANSKE) (PINK:DNSKY), Handelsbanken, Nordea Bank AB (STO:NDA-SEK), SEB and Swedbank AB (PINK:SWDBY) (STO:SWED-PREF).
Shortly before Christmas, the Norwegian government asked the FSA to look into reforming the way Nibor was calculated. Sweden decided, last week, that the Swedish Bankers’ Association should take over the responsibility for setting the so-called Stibor, going against a trend of taking power away from industry groups. Denmark is also looking to reform its local rate despite finding no evidence of manipulation.
Aftenposten quotes the undisclosed bank for these accusations:
“This is not normal market behaviour. We suspect market abuse, this is a serious allegation.”
[Read from the picture of the printed emails]
Retranslated from Norwegian:
”Today is another good example. Look at the 3 month interest rate, it is unchanged from yesterday, look at the 9 month interest rate it is also unchanged. Then look at 6 month interest rate, it is three points lower”, the bank writes referring to that [sic] these different interests should normally have a high degree of co-variation.
”If this isn’t market manipulation, I don’t know what it is,” it goes on to say.
Further quoting a letter: [Bankers Trade Association (FNO)]:
In a letter dated August 16th last year from Norges Bank (Norwegian CB), the following is said about the allegation from foreign banks:”FNO does not seem to deal [with] these accusations in a way to fully restore the market participant’s confidence in NIBOR as a reference interest rate.”
The mentioned banks ARE not only the Scandinavian financial sector, but also the Nordic financial sector as Finland is included – and Finland has precious little banking besides the 4 big Swedish banks and Danske Bank A/S (CPH:DANSKE) (PINK:DNSKY).
The Financial Times’ interpretation of Sweden moving power back to the banks is probably not correct. Denmark has tried to establish an alternative to CIBOR, where the CB quotes a CITA interest rate. The point is that the CB has stopped quoting the interest rates as official – which is very different from handing power back to the bank and saying: We won’t touch it with a ten foot pole!
The biggest problem with the CIBOR-rate was that is was based on an interbank money market – a market that after the Financial Crisis didn’t work anymore. Apart from that, the interest was according to Nationalbanken (Danish CB), inexplicably high during a period when there additionally [sic] was a state guarantee to the Danish banks.
The disturbing part is that the bankers’ association put the pressure on the Central Bank and Bank inspection to shut down complaints – apparently not dignifying the allegations with a rebuttal.
The NIBOR is fixed by taking the average of the 6 quoting banks rate – leaving out the highest and lowest. This means Swedish banks determine the Norwegian interest rate – NOT the Norwegian CB – this boarders on Norwegian sovereignty! This is asking for a nationalisation among others, of an already Swedish nationalised bank.
How the Norwegians and their authorities will react is very much a question – the problem is also this foreign bank! Who can it be – we know for certain which banks aren’t blowing the whistle – look at the list above!