Audit Notes: Bloomberg on Libor, “can’t find workers” in the WSJ

At least 34 traders are under investigation in the widening scandal

Bloomberg names names in the Libor investigation, reporting that at least 34 traders from more than a dozen banks are being examined:

Regulators are examining the possible roles of Michael Zrihen at Credit Agricole, Didier Sander at HSBC and Christian Bittar at Deutsche Bank, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the probe is continuing. Investigators are focusing on their links to Philippe Moryoussef, an ex-trader at Barclays, which was fined $451 million for rigging the euro and London interbank offered rates, the person said…

At least 34 traders have been caught up in the scandal, either being fired or suspended by their employers or put under investigation by U.K. or U.S. authorities. That includes employees from Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, UBS AG, Citigroup Inc., Barclays and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

— Jonathan Weil asks some good questions about the Justice Department’s settlement with Barclays and then-CEO Bob Diamond over its Libor fraud. Weil notes that the settlement’s claim that underlings misunderstood a Diamond email gives him a DOJ-backed alibi:

Imagine you ran a too-big-to-fail bank under criminal investigation by U.S. prosecutors. Now ask yourself this: How much of your company’s money would you pay to have the Justice Department inoculate you personally against the prospect of any government charges?

If you said “the sky’s the limit,” you’re not alone. Prosecutors often settle claims against corporations in exchange for fines, while letting the executives off scot-free. This brings us to the $160 million non-prosecution agreement that Barclays Plc (BARC) reached last month with the Justice Department, a week before Robert Diamond resigned as its chief executive officer…

By all appearances, Barclays paid a lot of money for a deal that let its top executives off the hook, while prosecutors accepted Diamond’s version of events as part of the negotiations. That let them get a settlement and move on. Whatever its basis for concluding that Diamond’s story was the truth, the Justice Department owes the world an explanation.

— The “can’t find workers” meme hits The Wall Street Journal, which tells us that “even in a time of 8% unemployment, some jobs go begging,” according to a business group:

What’s a company to do when it can’t find workers with needed skills? Work its current employees for longer hours. That’s the conclusion by economists at the Conference Board. The trend suggests a further split in consumer confidence about the labor markets: offering job security to some while most workers still worry about layoffs.

Oddly enough, wages don’t seem to be rising in these areas:

fter all, in-demand workers should be able to command higher incomes. But the economists point out it can take several years for average wages to rise in occupations with talent shortages because higher compensation can sometimes be determined by merit, seniority and location rather than labor-market conditions.

Meantime, corporate profit per employee has risen 50 percent in the last couple of years.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,