"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"
So concludes The Who's nihilist anthem from its 1971 album 'Who's Next?'.
It might be worth remembering Pete Townsend's not-so-subtle warning about hope, change and revolution as we witness the time-honoured escalation with the British media of the Libor-fixing controversy from wonkish banking news item to collective national fury.
Barclays is well on its way to getting a "new boss", or at least a new Chairman, after Marcus Agius took one for the team and tendered his resignation in the hope of drawing a line under the furore which has cleaned more than £3.6bn in market value from its share price.
It might even be preparing to welcome a new CEO as the public voices demanding a similar leap into the proverbial volcano by Bob Diamondintensify.
But then what?
The bank's going to audit its business practices and publish a report, we're told this morning, but the top line of that particular "mea culpa" can largely be written in the next few seconds: 'we're sorry, we've found a few bad apples, they're gone, we'll do more to win back your trust, here's a big fat charitable donation.'
Cynical? Sure. But in my view it's no more than this "scandal" deserves.
Allow me to explain.
The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, has been a running inside joke among the financial community for at least a decade. "The rate at which banks don't lend to each other" was how it was often flippantly explained. And for the most part that was true - because banks were never compelled to act on the rates they submitted.
Libor is rarely tradable during the day at the same rate it's fixed - and for good reason: circumstances in a global financial market place change every minute of the day and what's worth "x" at 11am is worth "y" at 4pm.
Imagine asking banks to "fix" the price of BT Group shares each and every day and then deal at that price all day long?
Thankfully, there are up-to-the minute interest rate swaps markets that allow investors to pin-point value on trading screens throughout the day, largely negating the necessity of having to rely on opacity of auction-set rates such as libor.
But even if I was to accept that libor was some sort of sacred lynchpin to the hundreds of trillions of dollars in assets around the world (as the press would have you believe) I still wouldn't be terribly moved by this scandal.
The British Bankers Association assigns libor levels across 10 currencies and 15 different time frames each day. That's 150 settings a day in which 16 banks offer contributions.
The FSA's record fine of £59.5m was the result of investigations into two different 18-month periods. Collectively there would have been around 2.4m total libor submissions from the 16 contributing banks - or around 150,000 from Barclays alone.
The FSA analysed 153 of them.
I'm not condoning the practice of helping low-ball interest rate markets for the benefit of your mates and those found guilty of manipulation should be fired.
But neither am I prepared to excoriate an entire industry on the basis of (likely failed) attempts by three or four people to temporarily (and marginally) lower one obscure euro-based interest rate setting on one particular day five years ago (March 29, 2007) which is one of the key allegations of the FSA's findings.
Unsurprisingly, those aspects of the "scandal" have largely gone unmentioned by those in government keen to deflect as much of our attention as possible from the rapidly deteriorating economy.
Last week we learned that not only are we mired in the first double-dip recession since the 1970s, but the contraction in the final months of 2011 was even steeper than we thought. We've also found that government spending has risen, borrowing spiked and tax policies abandoned.
It doesn't hurt Mervyn King's cause, either, to shfit focus from his inglorius tenure as Governor of the Bank of England towards the "deceitful manipulation" of Libor rates and the call for a "a real change in the culture of the industry."
A bit of "banker bashing", then, is just what the doctor ordered.
And gratefully one cue, the British media has indulged the outrage, trotting out successive ministers from all sides of the House of Commons to express disgust, call for resignations, demand accountability and push for "a change of culture" in the banking industry.
I've no doubt that inaccurate submissions have been placed by traders setting libor rates. The email chains have proven as much (while providing a little "big boy" mirth). But I seriously doubt there's been widespread manipulation. Barclays isn't big enough to move libor on its own and authorities are nowhere near to proving collusion among the 16 banks providing the submissions.
US academics Rosa M. Arbantes-Metz and Michael Kraten conducted an exhaustive study of libor submissions when accusations of low-balling first surfaced in 2008.
The pair concluded in their paper "Libor Manipulation?" that while some "questionable patterns do exist with respect to the banks' daily Libor quotes ... our analyses of these apparent anomalies within the individual quotes suggest that the evidence is inconsistent with an effective manipulation of Libor."
None of this is to suggest the banking industry doesn't have a case to answer - but it's one that endemic to public culture as much as it is to business.
Serial board member Sir Michael Rake has been elevated by Barclays to the role of Deputy Chairman and he'll oversee the bank's independent inquiry.
How he will manage to devote the time needed for this while maintaining his responsibilities as Chairman of BT Group, easyjet, and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and directorships at McGraw-Hill and the Financial Reporting Council is anyone's guess.
Why Agius, his colleagues and the banks' shareholders were comfortable with his Chairmanships of both Barclays and the British Bankers' Association - while the later was forming a "steering group" to investigate questionalbe practices that may have included the former - is another.
We might also ask why an opaque auction process that's been in place since 1984- that we're now told underpins the entirely of the financial markets - is only finding its way into the news cycle today. And why misdeeds from as far back as 2006 are only being unearthed by our market "watchdogs" in 2012.
It might be worth wondering why lawmakers - past and present - felt comfortable in allowing such an important component in our financial engine to be calibrated in secret for the better part of three decades. Or why Governor King is only now, months before his 14-year stint at or near the pinacale of the City comes to an end, acknowleding that "...everyone (sic) now understands that something went very wrong with the U.K. banking industry."
Sadly, we won't get answers to any of those questions from either Barclays' self-audit or the government-commissioned "review" of the Libor process.
What we'll get instead is a few more heads rolling and a lot more hands wringing.
I, for one, intend to follow Townsend's advice in keeping a sardonic distance from this manufactured scandal.
"... get on my knees and pray: we don't' get fooled again."