11 June 2013

Banks Manipulating Trades and Rigging Benchmarks in Foreign Exchange Markets

Are there any markets that have not been corrupted by lax regulation, and as a consequence by Banks who have been emboldened in their insatiable greed by the lack of effective enforcement of the rules and equal justice for all?

It is somewhat ironic that this news of routine price rigging comes on the revelation that Obama is replacing Gary Gensler, Chairman of the CFTC, for being too aggressive in seeking to regulate the Swaps markets and angering some foreign banks (read London trading operations of the big multinational banks). 

London has become a favored haven for corrupt financial practices such as 'the London Whale.'

I will suggest to you that this is still just the tip of the iceberg.  And for those who assert that there is no manipulation in the precious metals markets, despite all the odd price action and blatantly predatory selling raids, I would suggest that they are obviously lacking in something, exactly what I cannot say.

There will be no sustainable recovery until the impediments to honest price discovery and the pernicious tax of corruption is eliminated through greater transparency, equal enforcement of existing laws, and serious reform. 

One can seriously wonder how confident they can be that the governments of the US and the UK, and of Europe as well, are seriously committed to performing the basic function of maintaining honest markets for their constituents.  If market confidence breaks, there will be hell to pay.

Even if they hide and tolerate this corruption for the sake of 'confidence, ' markets have a significant role to play in the economy.  That function has become warped and perverted through corrupt practices, with serious real world results, which accumulate and worsen over time, with consequences that we have yet to discover.

Breaking News from Bloomberg:
"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.

The behavior occurred daily in the spot foreign-exchange market and has been going on for at least a decade, affecting the value of funds and derivatives, the two traders said. The Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s markets supervisor, is considering opening a probe into potential manipulation of the rates, according to a person briefed on the matter..."