The administrators of Euribor, the Brussels equivalent of the Libor benchmark rate, have decided against an overhaul in which they would calculate the benchmark based on actual transaction data rather than the old system of banks’ best estimates.
The European Securities and Markets Authority — the pan-EU watchdog of watchdogs — and the Belgian financial regulator said in a joint statement late on Thursday that the European Money Markets Institute, which administers Euribor, had decided against using the new methodology after a pilot exercise that gathered data from 31 banks over a six-month period.
EMMI said it still wanted ideally to move to a transaction-based method of calculating Euribor but “current market conditions” meant it was not feasible to move to that system alone right now. Instead, EMMI said it would adopt a hybrid approach, using the quote-based system but supplementing it with transaction data and other pricing where possible.
“We remain committed to reform the benchmark methodology to anchor Euribor in real transaction market data to the extent possible, in line with the EU benchmarks regulation,” said Guido Ravoet, EMMI’s secretary general. “Over the next months we will focus on developing a hybrid methodology, capable of adapting to the prevailing market conditions, and hence fit-for-purpose at all times.”
The watchdogs, which form part of a so-called College of Euribor that supervises the benchmark-setting process, said in the statement that the college “takes note of this decision and will continue to engage with EMMI on alternative plans for Euribor reform and transition.”
The idea to move to a data-based setting process was part of broader attempts around the world to clean up benchmarks after the rigging scandals that have seen former traders jailed in the UK and the US. The banks where they worked have paid around $10bn in total fines.
A trial of former traders of Barclays and Deutsche Bank for the alleged rigging of Euribor is slated to start in London in September.
The decision by EMMI contrasts with Intercontinental Exchange, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange that now oversees the setting process for Libor, or the London Interbank Offered Rate. Libor calculations now put more emphasis on actual transaction data rather than the opinion of individuals at panel banks as to their borrowing rates.
Euribor, like Libor, underpins billions of pounds of debt products, from mortgages to student loans to complex derivative products.
Under the old system where manipulation is said to have taken place, Euribor, or the European interbank offered rate, was calculated from submissions by a panel comprising as many as 44 banks.