Federal Reserve Audit Reveals Trillions in Secret Bailouts
The first-ever audit of the U.S. Federal Reserve has revealed 16 trillion dollars in secret bank bailouts and has raised more questions about the quasi-private agency’s opaque operations.
“This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else,” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said in a statement.
“From late 2007 through mid-2010, Reserve Banks provided more than a trillion dollars… in emergency loans to the financial sector to address strains in credit markets and to avert failures of individual institutions believed to be a threat to the stability of the financial system,” the audit report states.
“The scale and nature of this assistance amounted to an unprecedented expansion of the Federal Reserve System’s traditional role as lender-of-last-resort to depository institutions,” according to the report.
The Fed provided loans to JP Morgan Chase bank to acquire Bear Stears, a failed investment firm; provided loans to keep American International Group (AIG), a multinational insurance corporation, afloat; extended lending commitments to Bank of America and Citigroup; and purchased risky mortgage-backed securities to get them off private banks’ books.
Overall, the greatest borrowing was done by a small number of institutions. Over the three years, Citigroup borrowed a total of 2.5 trillion dollars, Morgan Stanley borrowed two trillion; Merryll Lynch, which was acquired by Bank of America, borrowed 1.9 trillion; and Bank of America borrowed 1.3 trillion.
Banks based in counties other than the U.S. also received money from the Fed, including Barclays of the United Kingdom, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (UK), Deutsche Bank (Germany), UBS (Switzerland), Credit Suisse Group (Switzerland), Bank of Scotland (UK), BNP Paribas (France), Dexia (Belgium), Dresdner Bank (Germany), and Societe General (France).
“No agency of the United States government should be allowed to bailout a foreign bank or corporation without the direct approval of Congress and the President,” Sanders wrote.
“The main problem is the lack of Congressional oversight, and the way the Fed seemed to pick winners who would be protected at any cost,” Randall Wray, professor of economics at University of Missouri- Kansas City, told IPS.
In recent days, ‘Bloomberg News’ obtained 29,346 pages of documentation from the Federal Reserve about some of these secret loans, after months of fighting in court for access to the records under the Freedom of Information Act.