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Reforming LIBOR and Other Financial Market Benchmarks


  • Darrell Duffie
  • Jeremy C. Stein


LIBOR is the London Interbank Offered Rate: a measure of the interest rate at which large banks can borrow from one another on an unsecured basis. LIBOR is often used as a benchmark rate—meaning that the interest rates that consumers and businesses pay on trillions of dollars in loans adjust up and down contractually based on movements in LIBOR. Investors also rely on the difference between LIBOR and various risk-free interest rates as a gauge of stress in the banking system. Benchmarks such as LIBOR therefore play a central role in modern financial markets. Thus, news reports in 2008 revealing widespread manipulation of LIBOR threatened the integrity of this benchmark and lowered trust in financial markets. We begin with a discussion of the economic role of benchmarks in reducing market frictions. We explain how manipulation occurs in practice, and illustrate how benchmark definitions and fixing methods can mitigate manipulation. We then turn to an overall policy approach for reducing the susceptibility of LIBOR to manipulation before focusing on the practical problem of how to make an orderly transition to alternative reference rates without raising undue legal risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Darrell Duffie & Jeremy C. Stein, 2015. "Reforming LIBOR and Other Financial Market Benchmarks," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 191-212, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:29:y:2015:i:2:p:191-212 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.29.2.191

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Darrell Duffie & David R. Skeie & James Vickery, 2013. "A sampling-window approach to transactions-based Libor fixing," Staff Reports 596, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Eclipsing LIBOR
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2017-09-04 17:29:38


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    Cited by:

    1. Dániel Horváth & Eszter Makay, 2015. "Analysis methodology of interbank reference rates - International trends and the results of the first Hungarian annual statistical analysis for 2014," Financial and Economic Review, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary), vol. 14(2), pages 62-88.
    2. Duffie, Darrell & Dworczak, Piotr & Zhu, Haoxiang, 2014. "Benchmarks in Search Markets," Research Papers 3190, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    3. Alexis Stenfors, 2017. "Bid-Ask Spread Determination in the FX Swap Market: Competition, Collusion or a Convention?," Working Papers in Economics & Finance 2017-03, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Economics and Finance Subject Group.
    4. Nils Herger, 2017. "Testing the interest parity condition with Irving Fisher's example of Indian rupee and sterling bonds in the London financial market (1869 - 1906)," Working Papers 17.04, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
    5. Nuria Boot & Timo Klein & Maarten Pieter Schinkel, 2017. "Collusive Benchmark Rates Fixing," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-122/VII, Tinbergen Institute, revised 26 Jan 2018.
    6. King, Thomas B. & Lewis, Kurt F., 2014. "What Drives Bank Funding Spreads?," Working Paper Series WP-2014-23, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    7. Nuria Boot & Timo Klein & Maarten Pieter Schinkel, 2017. "Collusive Benchmark Rates Fixing," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1715, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Dubecq, Simon & Monfort, Alain & Renne, Jean-Paul & Roussellet, Guillaume, 2016. "Credit and liquidity in interbank rates: A quadratic approach," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 29-46.
    9. Piotr Mielus, 2016. "Dylematy reformy indeksów rynku finansowego," Gospodarka Narodowa, Warsaw School of Economics, issue 4, pages 91-114.
    10. repec:cbh:journl:v:14:y:2015:i:2:p:62-88 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation


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