Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The World's Central Banker

. Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More information (via Felix Salmon) about how the Fed acted as the lender of last resort for foreign firms during the 2008 crisis:

File under “things you never knew the Fed did during the financial crisis”: an $80 billion loan scheme known as ST OMO, which was so obscure that even Barney Frank had no idea it existed when he required the Fed to turn over its lending data in his Dodd-Frank bill. ...

Why was the Fed so reluctant to discuss this program? After all, Fed spokesman Jeffrey Smith had nothing but great stuff to say about it to Ivry, gushing about how it “helped alleviate strains in financial markets and support the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses”. You’d think if it was so great, the Fed wouldn’t be so quiet about it.

One possible reason is hinted at in the charts above. They cover four banks: Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, BofA, and RBS. (RBS is still referred to, quaintly, under its old name of Greenwich Capital, the shop bought by NatWest before NatWest was bought by RBS.) The three European banks all borrowed 11-figure sums from the facility, while the one American bank barely used it. ...

But it does seem that the governments of Switzerland, Germany, France, and the UK should all be sending thank-you letters to 33 Liberty Street if they haven’t already done so: it’s entirely possible that the New York Fed bailed out their banks without those governments even knowing about it. That’s just how generous we are, in this country.

I've written about similar actions here and here. The Fed has been criticized for not doing more to stimulate the economy since 2008, but the actions it took to stabilize the international financial system would make Kindleberger smile.


The World's Central Banker




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