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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. David Hou Author-Name: David Skeie, 2013. "LIBOR: origins, economics, crisis, scandal and reform," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics,, Palgrave Macmillan.
    2. Darrell Duffie & David R. Skeie & James Vickery, . "A sampling-window approach to transactions-based Libor fixing," Staff Reports, 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
    2. Replacing LIBOR
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2019-08-26 12:22:06


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    Cited by:

    1. Eugenio M. Cerutti & Maurice Obstfeld & Haonan Zhou, 2019. "Covered Interest Parity Deviations: Macrofinancial Determinants," NBER Working Papers 26129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Alex Frino & Michael Garcia, 2018. "Price discovery in short‐term interest rate markets: Futures versus swaps," Journal of Futures Markets, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 38(10), pages 1179-1188, October.
    3. 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.
    4. Aneta Hryckiewicz & Piotr Mielus & Karolina Skorulska & Malgorzata Snarska, 2018. "Does a bank levy increase frictions on the interbank market?," Working Papers 2018-033, Warsaw School of Economics, Collegium of Economic Analysis.
    5. Ren'e Aid & Giorgia Callegaro & Luciano Campi, 2019. "No-Arbitrage Commodity Option Pricing with Market Manipulation," Papers 1909.07896,, revised Mar 2020.
    6. Stenfors, Alexis, 2018. "Bid-ask spread determination in the FX swap market: Competition, collusion or a convention?," Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 78-97.
    7. Contessi, Silvio & De Pace, Pierangelo & Guidolin, Massimo, "undated". "Mildly Explosive Dynamics in U.S. Fixed Income Markets," Economics Department, Working Paper Series 1001, Economics Department, Pomona College, revised 12 Feb 2020.
    8. Daniel Kohler & Benjamin Müller, 2019. "Covered interest rate parity, relative funding liquidity and cross-currency repos," Working Papers 2019-05, Swiss National Bank.
    9. repec:cpr:ceprdp:14357 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Hélène Rainelli & Hélène Rainelli-Weiss, 2019. "Recherche en finance : quand la performativité invite à la réflexivité," Post-Print halshs-02025011, HAL.
    11. Andreas Schrimpf & Vladyslav Sushko, 2019. "Beyond LIBOR: a primer on the new benchmark rates," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, March.
    12. Alexander Eisl & Rainer Jankowitsch & Marti G. Subrahmanyam, 2017. "The Manipulation Potential of Libor and Euribor," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 23(4), pages 604-647, September.
    13. 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.
    14. Frino, Alex & Ibikunle, Gbenga & Mollica, Vito & Steffen, Tom, 2018. "The impact of commodity benchmarks on derivatives markets: The case of the dated Brent assessment and Brent futures," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 27-43.
    15. Nuria Boot & Timo Klein & Maarten Pieter Schinkel, 2017. "Collusive Benchmark Rates Fixing," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-122/VII, Tinbergen Institute, revised 17 Apr 2019.
    16. Piotr Mielus, 2016. "Dylematy reformy indeksów rynku finansowego," Gospodarka Narodowa, Warsaw School of Economics, issue 4, pages 91-114.
    17. Marcin Dec, 2018. "On the trade-offs in money market benchmarks' stabilisation," Working Papers 2018-039, Warsaw School of Economics, Collegium of Economic Analysis.

    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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