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Interbank Market Collapsing

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QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; Has interbank lending collapse due to a lack of confidence concerning counter-party risk?

Thank you for being a rare source with experience


ANSWER: Yes that is a correct statement. The failure of Lehman and Bear Sterns was the result of interbank lending when they could not make good on the collateral they posted the day before in the REPO market. Then we had the collapse of MF Global, which was also a loss linked to the overnight markets. Now mix in the LIBOR scandal and banks were scrutinized for manipulating LIBOR rates in the interbank market.

The interbank lending market is a market in which banks extend loans to one another for a specified term, typically 24 hrs. Most interbank loans are for maturities of one week or less, the majority being overnight. Such loans are made at the interbank rate (also called the overnight rate if the term of the loan is overnight).

The collapse of this market is a clear warning that liquidity is extremely vulnerable. When crisis strikes, liquidity will simply vanish entirely. This warns that volatility will rise sharply and it appears to be predominantly focused in on the debt market.