Tracking the Libor Rate

30 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2010

See all articles by Rosa M. Abrantes-Metz

Rosa M. Abrantes-Metz

The Brattle Group

Sofia Berto Villas-Boas

University of California, Berkeley - Agricultural & Resource Economics

Date Written: July 21, 2010


With an eye to providing a methodology for tracking the dynamic integrity of prices for important market indicators, in this paper we use Benford second digit reference distribution to track the daily London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) over the period 2005-2008. This reference, known as Benford’s law, is present in many naturally occurring numerical data sets as well as in several financial data sets. We find that in two recent periods Libor rates depart significantly from the expected Benford reference distribution. This raises potential concerns relative to the unbiased nature of the signals coming from the sixteen banks from which the Libor is computed and the usefulness of the Libor as a major economic indicator.

Keywords: market rate data, Libor, Benford’s law, second digit distributions, aggregation game, agents’ signals, manipulation, collusion, conspiracy

JEL Classification: C10, C24

Suggested Citation

Abrantes-Metz, Rosa M. and Villas-Boas, Sofia, Tracking the Libor Rate (July 21, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Rosa M. Abrantes-Metz

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Sofia Villas-Boas (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

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