In the financial scandal surrounding the fraudulent fixing of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), it is hard to see who is the corrupt policeman since there are so many likely candidates. Every day, 20 or so major financial establishments (Barclays, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Bank of America, etc) fix the Libor.

Our world is plagued with arbitrary or adulterated data (the Libor, the “golden rule”, levels of debt or public deficits that must not be exceeded) that cause entire nations to suffer, such as Spain. The people from the central banks and the ratings agencies who mete out these cruel punishments still command devout respect. But as one of the worst financial crises in history enters its fifth year, we may have doubts as to the social usefulness of their institutions.