European financial regulators are launching a new working group to develop a new interest rate benchmark to replace the benchmarks that were involved in the wholesale market manipulation scandal.
The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the European Central Bank (ECB), the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), and the European Commission, announced Thursday they are mandating a new working group to develop a new risk-free overnight rate to provide an alternative to current benchmarks that underpin a variety of financial instruments and contracts.
Efforts to replace the existing financial benchmarks, such as Libor and Euribor, follow from a widespread market manipulation scandal that saw firms trying to influence the benchmark rates in order to benefit their trading positions, rather than reflecting true market conditions.
Once the working group has made a recommendation on its preferred alternative for a new risk-free rate, it will also examine possible approaches for ensuring a smooth transition to this new rate that will minimize the disruption to markets and consumers, and to preserve the continuity of existing contracts as much as possible.
“These tasks require the involvement of public authorities and a concerted effort by all market participants to facilitate a gradual reduction of the current reliance on the IBORs,” the regulators say in their announcement. “Ensuring broad market acceptance is vital for the effective functioning of any alternative to existing benchmark rates.”
In the meantime, the regulators indicate that they expect banks to continue participating in, and supporting, the existing rate Euribor and EONIA benchmarks.
The ECB also announced that it will start providing an overnight unsecured index before 2020. “This widens the set of options for the choice of such alternative rates for the euro area and is in line with the [Financial Stability Board] recommendation… to identify and adopt one or more risk-free rates in each main currency area,” the ECB says.