Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why There Will Be No Serious Prosecution Of Libor Fraud

The latest brew-ha-ha in the news is the revelation that hot shots at TBTF banks colluded to suppress published rates for Libor.  The nonsense you may hear about prosecutions is much ado about nothing.  There will be no serious prosecutions of anyone above mid-level supervisor on a handful of trading desks.  Those trading desks that are targeted will be those that are not central to the government's funding needs; i.e., Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase are certainly exempt.  Those few low-level traders that are indicted will be thrown under the bus by colleagues because they are not members of pedigreed families and did not join the proper social clubs at Ivy League schools.  No senior bank executive will ever face jail time for collusion, price fixing, restraint of trade, or any other flavor of securities-related criminality.

You may be wondering how I can make this claim.  It's simple.  Read today's news that the Secretary of the Treasury knew of Barclays' participation in Libor fixing while he ran the New York Fed.  Building a case for widespread, top-level collusion would require law enforcement agencies to subpoena the sitting Treasury Secretary (and perhaps his predecessor) and force him to testify against his peers in banking.  That is not going to happen.  No one with intimate ties to the Fed can be prosecuted for financial wrongdoing in plutocratic America.  That would strike at the heart of the Fed's credibility, and the Fed is the one bedrock institution whose credibility cannot be in question as the U.S. economy heads into the second inning of Great Depression 2.0.  It will need every ounce of trust it can finagle out of the markets to execute QE3 within the short window of opportunity presented by a severe equity market crash and foreign run on the dollar.  I can question the Fed because I don't matter to our ruling elite.

Fed and Treasury officials have the equivalent of get-out-of-jail-free cards as long as the TBTF insolvency crisis goes without resolution.  The same goes for senior executives at those banks; they are part of our country's ruling class and are therefore irreplaceable.  After all, who would take their places in the local country club dining rooms if they could no longer attend caviar tastings due to incarceration?  It certainly won't be you, dear reader.