Cramer: Banking Is a Lawless Profession
This rate they manipulated, the London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR, is immensely important, controlling trillions of dollars in contracts, everything from what corporations borrow at to what you and I might have gotten our mortgage priced off of. It was sacrosanct, or so I thought, and along come these trading pirates taking it where they can, perhaps in a total conspiracy with other bank traders, to get bigger bonuses and inflate their banks' share prices.
To which I say, of course they did. Why not? If they got caught, who paid? The shareholders, that's who. "Barclays agreed to pay $453 million in fines," the lead story of The Wall Street Journal opens with. But it wasn't Barclays, it was the hapless owners of Barclays. "The unusually steep punishment," to quote further, reflected the serious and widespread nature of the manipulation.
We have put Mafia chieftains in jail for years for fixing the prices of the trucking of goods. We have indicted, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced organized-crime lords for cheating casinos and running numbers and sports books. We've put people in jail for ages for fixing the price of electrical equipment and cardboard boxes!
But these guys, involved in far more nefarious rigging, easily documented from emails, get to laugh all the way to the bank, because I am not even hearing about clawbacks of bonuses that might have been enlarged by manipulating the most important financial contract in the world.