By Chris Cook, former compliance and market supervision director of the International Petroleum Exchange
A generation of markets is dying and the era of the Middleman is coming to an end. The ‘Bezzle’ – as J K Galbraith described financial misbehaviour in a boom, revealed by a bust – is now coming to light.
We now see a wave of popular rage against the freshly revealed manipulation by banks of LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate benchmark for interest rates which is the cornerstone of the money market.
This manipulation in the financial world is being augmented by a groundswell of protest against manipulation taking place in the real world. Here, the allegation is that the Brent/BFOE (Brent, Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk) crude oil benchmark price, against which global crude oil prices are set, is the subject of routine manipulation by market participants, particularly investment banks and traders of physical oil.
In both cases, the popular outcry is based upon misconceptions as to what has actually been going on. The good news in the oil market at least is that the manipulation which is being revealed is nowhere near as serious in its effects on the general public as is believed. The bad news is that the true manipulation, as yet still concealed, is far more serious than anyone has yet conceived.