Ever since the beginning of the global financial crisis, the volume of interbank deposits, and liquidity in general, has reduced to historical minimums. The numerous cash-flow injections on the part of governments and institutions, such as the FED or ECB, have failed to be channeled by private banking institutions towards credit for families and businesses. It has, however, been used to attenuate the impact of banking losses originating from subprime mortgages and speculative activities such as the purchase of sovereign debt. This, in turn, has led to the current debt crisis.
Given the circumstances, and being aware than the interbank deposits market is a determining Euribor factor, we decided to investigate whether the necessary operations for the daily publishing of this basic reference rate were in fact occurring. Euribor impacts the calculation of mortgage and loans interest rates, as well as other important factors such as the Tariff Deficit paid by the state to electrical companies for example.
- Verification of interest rates published by the Bank of Spain.
- These are the interest rates of Spanish yearly interbank deposits (latest monthly data).
- In order to have a clearer view, we recommend printing the above information on a piece of A4 paper and comparing it with: http://www.bde.es/webbde/es/estadis/infoest/series/ti_1_2.csv
- On the left we find the date. We find the daily interest rates and then, separated by commas, the monthly, quarterly, biannually and yearly rates followed by other titles and derivatives’ rates along the same line.
- If we follow the historical series from the beginning, right around the 80s, until our current days, we can observe that the tables are more or less full of data, especially on a daily basis, and yearly too, of course.
- It is surprising, however, that the annual rate for 2011 is determined by quotes obtained from just one operation during an entire month, see August 2011, where we find just one operation on the 2nd. If we have a look at July 2011, we find the calculation is based on just one day too, July 27th, determining a rate of 3.100%. The rest of columns appear empty. This means no operations occurred on those days. This has been confirmed by the Bank of Spain via a telephone call.
- Bearing in mind that the Spanish interbank market represents around 15% to 20% of the European total, we studied the Bank of Spain’s published tables of daily Euribor data resulting from the calculations performed by Thomson Reuters, which can be consulted here.
We then printed the information from the previous link in order to make the analysis easier and faster and compared it with the information contained in the following link http://www.bde.es/webbde/es/estadis/infoest/series/ti_1_7.csv
Selected examples of “suspicious” dates are:
- August 23rd 2010. Data: 0.423,0.635,0.891,1.143, 1.418.
- August 24th 2010. Data: 0.410,0.633,0.889,1.141 , 1.417.
- August 25th 2010. Data: 0.411,0.630,0.890,1.139, 1.417.
- August 26th 2010. Data: 0.408,0.628,0.889,1.139, 1.417.
- August 27th 2010. Data: 0.390,0.625,0.888,1.139, 1.417.
The consecutive repetition of the resulting rate (in bold) means that either:
1.There were no operations from August 24th
2. The operations were exactly the same one day after another, and always resulting in a rate of 1.417%.
If we observe the historical data (here we find the yearly Euribor rate right after the fifth comma), we find that during the several years of “normal functioning”, a rounded three decimal point rate almost never repeats two days in a row.
However, ever since the beginning of the financial crisis many repetitive days are observed. It is difficult (and rare) that this could happen if operations actually existed. We believe this to be a reasonable suspicion.
Euribor’s regulations (see Legal Provisions) state that:
“The underlying Panel Bank rates will be published on a series of composite pages which will display all the rates by maturity.”
“Historical data for Euribor® can be found on THOMSON REUTERS: EURIBORRECAP01 – EURIBORRECAP08 (this is for a period going back one month) or by contacting THOMSON REUTERS in London (tel: 44-207-542-9230 – fax 44-207-542-3294).”
We looked for the information in the web pages of Thomson Reuters but could not find anything. We did find historical tables data from the European Banking Federation. Unfortunately, those tables only show final rates, and we were unable to verify whether they correspond to the average interest rate of operations undertaken by each panel bank or to their offered interest rates. The only explanation given is the following:
“The historical data for Euribor® provided herein are displayed for information purposes only and should not be relied upon for any reason. Any use thereof is therefore at the user’s own risk. Neither the legal sponsors of Euribor®, nor anyone else can be held liable in any way for the inaccuracy of such historical data.
The historical data provided herein are no substitutes for the Euribor® reference rates that are displayed on THOMSON REUTERS: Euribor01/Euribor365/ EURIBORAVG01 in accordance with the Euribor® Technical Features. Please also refer to the FAQs”
Seeing as the published material could not provide answers, we began an inquiry process with relevant parties.
Inquiry process with participating panel banks in the calculation of Euribor rates
We initiated a double process, via telephone and written form, in order to enquire about the operations that, according to regulations, need to happen for Euribor to be calculated and contacted the following entities:
- Cajasol (Banca Cívica)
- Bank of Spain (and a visit to its Madrid HQ)
- European Banking Federation (EBF)
- Thomson Reuters
Each entity’s response limited itself to refer us to another of superior rank until we reached a Thomson Reuters representative who requested a writ in order to be able to reveal the daily operations from which the published Euribor data resulted from 2008 until 2011.
1. The Bank of Spain does not have the specific information used to calculate the daily index it publishes. The index is calculated by a private entity, the EBF, and published by another corporation, Thomson Reuters. The Bank of Spain merely receives and re-publishes the information without examination.
2. We found, in the tables published by the Bank of Spain, that very few interbank deposit operations appeared to happen and that there is no average interest rate publication.
If Spanish interbanking is “dry” because they do not trust each other, who from outside the country trusts Spanish banks? Do Spanish banks trust other banks outside of Spain?
3. Given the intention of calculating Euribor interest rates as a result of objective mathematical operations in order to avoid falsification or manipulation, these anomalies were very suspicious. The situation led us to make a few phone calls and formally request information to Cajasol, the Bank of Spain, the European Banking Federation and Thomson Reuters. Each request has been denied (either because they claimed not to have the information or by requesting a writ).
It is for this reason that we urge citizens to send information requests to their banks. as well as the rest of relevant organisations and institutions, and ask for interbank deposit quotes from June 2007 until June 2011. Our information request sample forms can be used.
We hope that this call-out, based on our legitimate right to be informed, raises awareness in media, the public prosecutor’s office, public servants and society in general. We also hope we can insist together and demand that financial institutions provide the data to the public. We also hope to clarify whether such an important reference rate, impacting our daily lives so dramatically, is being calculated according to regulations or, on the contrary, we find ourselves victims of a significant con-job protected by the existing obscurity in these type of banking processes and procedures. Processes which appear to be ever more alien and unknown to common people.