The Washington Post

Eight reasons to cover Libor

Part of an ongoing series examining the coverage of the Libor scandal.

A note to any news organization — like, perhaps, ABC or NBC — weighing whether to cover the scandal surrounding the London interbank offered rate, or Libor: Get on it, for the following reasons.

#1 Reason to cover Libor: $550 trillion.

#2 Reason to cover Libor: $450 million.

#3 Reason to cover Libor: Style-manual flexibility — some outlets call it “Libor,” some call it “LIBOR.” The New York Times goes with the lower profile, for reasons that Standards Editor Phil Corbett spells out: “Our style for acronyms is to capitalize only the first letter if the acronym is longer than four letters. So, it’s NATO but Libor. The idea is to avoid an unsightly pileup of capital letters, either scattered through a story or, worse yet, in a headline.”

#4 Reason to cover Libor: Eliot Spitzer. The Current TV host has gone nuts over Libor, even going so far as to say that “It all comes back to Libor.” A question for the networks and the like: You really going to let Eliot Spitzer mop the newsroom floor with you folks?

#5 Reason to cover Libor: The American Dream. The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has published findings showing that a great number of adjustable-rate mortgages are linked to Libor.

#6 Reason to cover Libor: Your pocketbook. As Dylan Matthews of The Washington Post’s Wonkblog explains: “[W]hen LIBOR rises, so do the prices ordinary consumers pay to, say, get a mortgage. Which means a bank that mucks with the LIBOR rate isn’t just playing around with esoteric derivatives that will only affect other traders: They’re playing with the real economy that most of us participate in every day.”

#7 Reason to cover Libor: You get to watch Rick Santelli rant.

#8 Reason to cover Libor: Accountability. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at today’s hearing of the Senate Banking Committee took questions regarding why the Fed hadn’t done more about the misconduct. His response? “The British Bankers Association did not adopt most of the suggestions that were made by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

#9 Reason to cover Libor: It’s mid-July. What else are you going to cover? Some kid getting arrested for growing pot?

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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