Fed Releases Thousands Of Pages Of Secret Loan Docs

After years of threats about untold destruction should the Fed release discount window borrowings by both the Fed and the Clearinghouse Association (read the bulk of the Primary Dealers), the Fed today released "thousands of pages" of discount window borrowings. And while we are waiting for the docs to be uploaded in a publicly disclosable and legible format, we observe that not only has the market not plunged, but the Dow is in fact higher at this moment, confirming yet again that not only is each and every threat by the Fed that if it does not get its way hollow and baseless, but the whole TARP rescue which pledged over $20 trillion in taxpayer capital to prevent the apocalypse was likely just as much of an empty threat, whose sole purpose was to prevent the bankruptcy of bank management and shareholders. We will release the documents with our analysis as soon as we get them, but in the meantime, here is the summary on this event from Bloomberg, whose employee Mark Pittman was responsible for this lawsuit, and won.

From Bloomberg's Craig Torres:

The Federal Reserve released thousands of pages of secret loan documents under court order, almost three years after Bloomberg LP first requested details of the central bank’s unprecedented support to banks during the financial crisis.

The records reveal for the first time the names of financial institutions that borrowed directly from the central bank through the so-called discount window. The Fed provided the documents after the U.S. Supreme Court this month rejected a banking industry group’s attempt to shield them from public view.

“This is an enormous breakthrough in the public interest,” said Walker Todd, a former Cleveland Fed attorney who has written research on the Fed lending facility. “They have long wanted to keep the discount window confidential. They have always felt strongly about this. They don’t want to tell the public who they are lending to.”

The central bank has never revealed identities of borrowers since the discount window began lending in 1914. The Dodd-Frank law exempted the facility last year when it required the Fed to release details of emergency programs that extended $3.3 trillion to financial institutions to stem the credit crisis. While Congress mandated disclosure of discount-window loans made after July 21, 2010 with a two-year delay, the records released today represent the only public source of details on discount- window lending during the crisis.

“It is in the interest of a central bank to put a premium on protecting its reputation, and, in the modern world, that means it should do everything to be as transparent as possible,” said Marvin Goodfriend, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who has been researching central bank disclosure since the 1980s.

“I see no reason why a central bank should not be willing to release with a lag most of what it is doing,” said Goodfriend, who is a former policy adviser at the Richmond Fed.

And some so called forward looking statements from the two primary beneficiaries of taxpayer largesse:

“I am concerned that in the next crisis it will be more difficult for the Federal Reserve to play the traditional role of lender of last resort,” said Donald Kohn, former Fed vice chairman and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Having these names made public, or the threat of having them made public, could well impair the efficacy of a key central bank function in a crisis -- to provide liquidity to avoid fire sales of assets -- because banks will be reluctant to borrow.”

“I think it will make it harder for people to use the discount window in the future,” Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive of New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the second- biggest U.S. bank by assets, told reporters yesterday after a speech in Washington. “We never intend to use the discount window.”

We shall find out very shortly just how often JPM and everyone else used the discount window, that allegedly nobody intended to use.


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