It’s easy to see the problems with Libor. It was calculated based on what bankers told a bank lobby their borrowing costs were, rather than on what actual trades showed they were. How could anything go wrong?

If there’s a silver lining here it’s that for once, this is a Wall Street scam that actually benefited lots of little guys. By lowballing Libor, the banks shaved tens of billions of dollars off the borrowing costs of adjustable-rate mortgages and the like. That shows as clearly as anything, just how dire their straits were in 2007 and 2008.

This is a big win for the business press, particularly the WSJ, as well as the FT, which were on it early and with enterprise.


Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.