While the entire eastern seaboard was obsessed with Irene, Gretchen Morgenson wrote in the New York Times this weekend about the Federal Reserve efforts to save the financial sector during the Great Recession, at enormous cost to the taxpayers and little benefit to Main Street. Talk about burying the lede!
Based on information generated by Freedom of Information Act requests and its longstanding lawsuit against the Federal Reserve board, Bloomberg reported that the Fed had provided a stunning $1.2 trillion to large global financial institutions at the peak of its crisis lending in December 2008.
The money has been repaid and the Fed has said its lending programs generated no losses. But with the United States economy weakening, European banks in trouble and some large American financial institutions once again on shaky ground, the Fed may feel compelled to open up its money spigots again. (emphasis added)
This is NOT the TARP money bailout that was publicly debated and ultimately Congressionally approved, but additional amounts of money that were lent by the Federal Reserve to large banks (including foreign banks) largely in secret and at minimal interest rates in order to make sure that these banks could meet their minimum liquidity requirements so as to avoid bankruptcy.