The overall landscape of the global financial markets is not on sound footing, as scandal after scandal continues to erupt. The newest episode involves the $5.3 trillion daily foreign exchange (forex) market.
Each day, there is a currency fix. The WMR/Reuters fix is the agreed-upon price based on trades during a 60-second period. The forex probe is centered on insider trading by currency traders who had prior knowledge of the fix before their clients did. For instance, traders could buy currencies at a low price knowing they could sell it to their clients at the higher fix price.
In September 2013, UBS provided the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) with information on these allegations in hopes of gaining antitrust immunity if charged with wrongdoing in a tax evasion probe. The following month, the DoJ, Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, the Bank of England and Switzerland's market regulator all opened investigations into this matter. In February 2014, New York's banking regulator followed suit and the Financial Stability Board, the global financial regulator that coordinates policy for the G20 countries, said it would review the findings, according to Reuters.
Raimund Roseler, head of banking supervision at BaFin, a German regulator, suggests several currencies have been subject to attempted manipulation. Manipulation of forex is being examined by at least a dozen regulatory bodies around the globe. These investigations of possible collusion and rate rigging in the global currency markets have resulted in the suspension, placing on leave or firing of at least 32 individuals at 11 banks and the Bank of England, the Financial Times reports.
This news about forex came less than 24 hours after U.S. authorities fined Credit Swiss $2.6 billion for assisting clients with tax evasion schemes. It also comes on the heels of the recent Libor and Euribor fixing scandal, which has cost 10 banks close to $6 billion total in fines, according to Reuters. Libor and Euribor are the interbank lending rates charged to banks in London and the eurozone, respectively.
In addition to the forex, Libor and Euribor scandals, the world has been engulfed in a number of other financial investigations, including that for the gold fix
, high-frequency trading
, mortgage securitization
and security ratings
The financialization of our global economy has metastasized for more than three decades. It may take several more to reestablish a firm footing.
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