Libor and the OIS

These are two of the most important interest rates in the world. Libor is the London Interbank offered rate. This is published by the British Banking Association based on averaging the rates at which major British banks are prepared to lend to each other.

The higher Libor is in relation to the Bank of England rate, the more nervous these banks are of each other. It is also used as the basis for pricing variable-rate mortgage products and commercial loans (for example, a company might be asked to pay a rate of, say, Libor+1%, depending on its credit rating).

In the US, the overnight index swap (OIS) is a broadly comparable rate, although it is calculated differently. It represents the average fixed rate US banks are prepared to offer in exchange for a short-term floating (ie, variable) rate of interest (called a swap). These swaps allow borrowers to hedge their exposure to rising rates.

The gap between Libor and the OIS is called the Libor/OIS spread and is another useful fear guage.

• See Tim Bennett’s video tutorial: Libor: Britain’s most important interest rate.

MoneyWeek magazine

Latest issue:

Magazine cover
The hunt for water

The most valuable commodity

The UK's best-selling financial magazine. Take a FREE trial today.
Claim 4 FREE Issues

Robert Shiller: why one of the world's smartest economists is worried about the bond market

Merryn Somerset Webb talks to Yale professor and Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller about how the power of 'stories' drives the global economy and creates financial bubbles.


Which investment platform?

When it comes to buying shares and funds, there are several investment platforms and brokers to choose from. They all offer various fee structures to suit individual investing habits.
Find out which one is best for you.


27 February 1900: The Labour Party is launched

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900, led by MP Keir Hardie.