Bloomberg ran quite a story, yesterday. It stems from a Freedom of Information Act Request that yielded the details of previously secret borrowing from the federal government to the biggest banks.
The bottom line, reports Bloomberg, by March of 2009, the Fed had committed $7.77 trillion "to rescuing the financial system, more than half the value of everything produced in the U.S. that year." The lending began in August of 2007.
The reporting from Bloomberg is spectacular, so we hope you click over and give exhaustive piece a read. But here are a few paragraphs that tell you what all of this means:
"The Fed didn't tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn't mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed's below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.
"Saved by the bailout, bankers lobbied against government regulations, a job made easier by the Fed, which never disclosed the details of the rescue to lawmakers even as Congress doled out more money and debated new rules aimed at preventing the next collapse.
"A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger."
Bloomberg reports that some of big winners of the lending were Citigroup, which made $1.8 billion by "taking advantage of below-market rates on emergency U.S. Federal Reserve loans." Bank of America made $1.5 billion.