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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The bank loan market is in the process of scrapping Libor, the benchmark rate that it’s used seemingly forever. That process was moving along pretty slowly — until now.

What’s new: JPMorgan made the first move in the corporate term loan market, on Friday selling a loan for Walker & Dunlop with an interest rate that’s not pegged to the disgraced Libor.

  • The success of that deal has already opened the door for JPMorgan to bring at least two more loans to market that use a similar interest rate structure, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: It may sound mundane, but the problem of transitioning from Libor to an alternative benchmark has occupied scores of regulators, bankers and investors for untold hours over the last decade.

  • If implemented sloppily, the process has the potential to create chaos in the corporate and mortgage lending markets — and cost both borrowers and lenders money.

Threat level: Regulators earlier this year set Dec. 31 as the last day that Libor can be referenced in new floating-rate loans, a category that currently includes trillions in debt.

  • Although market participants have known all year that this day was coming, as of a few months ago, little had changed in the institutional loan market — and a handful of alternative rates were fighting for prominence.

State of play: “The Walker & Dunlop deal is a good first step in migrating the markets to the same place,” says Roberta Goss, co-head of the bank loan and CLO platform at Pretium.

How it works: The new Walker & Dunlop loan is tied to the SOFR (secured overnight funding rate) benchmark, an overnight rate. That’s a fundamental difference from Libor, which has a yield curve (more on that here).

The bottom line: “Someone needed to be first. We now have [a structure] … so it's up to the market if this becomes the standard,” a leveraged finance banker tells Axios.

Go deeper: Banks see borrowing return

Go deeper

Aspiring Black homeowners face uphill battle in Philadelphia

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Aspiring Black homebuyers get denied mortgage loans in Philadelphia more frequently than their white counterparts, according to a report released this month.

  • And if they do manage to get a mortgage, they're competing with cash buyers — largely investors — in their neighborhoods.

Why it matters: Philadelphia has a long history of people of color, particularly Black people, being excluded from the mortgage market, tracing back to redlining in the 1930s.

  • Anti-discrimination laws like the Fair Housing Act of 1968 have helped make strides, but disparities persist.
Updated 12 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 14 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.