Definition of lowball

To lowball is to deliberately offer a price that is below the fair value of the market in order to create a false impression or to put pressure on a seller who needs to liquidate assets quickly.

 

lowball in the news

The term lowball came to have a wider meaning, however, during the Libor scandal. Some banks were accused of lowballing their Libor bids during the height of the financial crisis in 2008. There had even been concerns about lowballing dating back to 2007 when the Bank of England's Sterling Money Market Liaison Group had noted: "Several group members thought that Libor fixings had been lower than actual traded interbank rates through the period of stress".

At the end of December 2012, a report published by the UK Financial Services Authority suggested that UBS attempted to manipulate Libor rates not only to benefit its trading book, but also to paint a rosier picture of its financial health when credit markets dried up. Senior management at UBS, it said, had issued directives to lowball Libor submissions so that the bank did not attract negative media comment about its creditworthiness.

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