BBA black hole mystery solved | FT Alphaville

BBA black hole mystery solved

Well, not black, but mainly pixelated white…

As avid followers of the World’s Most Important Number affair, we came across this strange gap in the archive at the BBA – a gap in documentation between October 2007 and August 2009.

Every month or so the BBA sends out a briefing note to the media on some contemporaneous topic. The latest, for example, came out yesterday, entitled “Your mortgage and the markets.” Each briefing note is then posted on the BBA website here.

Now, back in 2008, during the dark days of the crisis, we used to discuss and write about Libor here on FT Alphaville on a near-daily basis. It was a crucial stress-gauge at the time and you can click through our coverage here.

Given what was going on back then, aligned with the fact that few people outside the money markets really understood Libor, the BBA helpfully published a series of briefings on the matter — the sort of consumer-friendly material that it has been publishing for years.

Sadly, those briefings seemed to have disappeared from the BBA’s archive.

In fact, there’s been a 20 month gap in the archive spanning the most intense period of the credit crunch.

But the mystery’s been solved – and it’s more cock-up rather than conspiracy.

Apparently, all the Libor briefings during The Crunch were taken down from the main BBA archive when the new dedicated BBALibor website was launched — and because this new site contained all the Libor information, it was assumed no one would want to read the old briefings.

That misassumption is now being fixed. We are assured that the docs will be back up here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, as to The World’s Most Corrected Number…

Bloomberg: In 2009, the lobby group called Libor “the world’s most important number.”

The facts: On 12 December 2008, a feature on LIBOR on the BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less referred to LIBOR as “the world’s most important number” (listen here). This is the first time, as far as we are aware, the term was associated with LIBOR. This is not a BBA assertion.

UPDATE 12.31pm: We have been directed to an earlier mention of the phrase “the world’s most important number” in relation to LIBOR: a BBC Online story dated 20 October 2008 (view it here). We are happy to correct this error.

UPDATE 2.00pm: Bloomberg has now amended its article to link to a BBA LIBOR press release dated 21 May 2009. In it the phrase “world’s most important number” is used to refer to LIBOR without quotation marks or attribution (view it here). Again, we are happy to correct this error here.

Related links:
Cleaning Libor – FT Alphaville
Bankers embark on Libor rate-setting rethink – FT Alphaville