As the Libor scandal has given an outlet for long-simmering anger against wanker bankers in the UK, there have been some efforts in the media to puzzle out who might have won or lost from the manipulations, as well as arguments that they were as “victimless” or helped people (as in reporting an artificially low Libor during the crisis led to lower interestrate resets on adjustable rate loans pegged to Libor; what’s not to like about that?)
What we have so far is a lot of drunk under the streetlight behavior: people trying to relate the scandal to the part that is most visible and easy to understand, meaning the loan market that keys off Libor. As much as that’s a really big number ($10 trillion), it is trivial compared to the relevant derivatives. From the FSA letter to Barclays:
The Eurodollar futurescontract traded on the CME in Chicago (which is the largest interest rate futures contract by volume in the world) has US dollar LIBOR as its reference rate. The value of volume of that contract traded in 2011 was over 564 trillion US dollars.
This is only one blooming exchange contract, albeit a monster of a contract. There are loads of OTC contracts in addition to that:
Interest rate derivative contracts typically contain payment terms that refer to benchmark rates. LIBOR and EURIBOR are by far the most prevalent benchmark rates used in euro,USdollar and sterling OTC interest rate derivatives contracts and exchange traded interest rate contracts.