Bank of America Kept Tapping Fed Facility After 2007 Show of ‘Leadership’
Bank of America Corp. (BAC), the biggest U.S. bank, tapped the Federal Reserve’s discount window two more times in August 2007 than previously disclosed, after saying it used the program only to help stabilize the financial system.
The company borrowed $500 million on Aug. 22, a move previously disclosed as the lender and its regulators sought to dispel the stigma of using the Fed facility so other firms would participate. Bank of America then went back to the Fed on Aug. 23 and Aug. 24 for $500 million each day, according to documents released today after a Freedom of Information Act filing.
“We participated at the request of the Federal Reserve to help stabilize the global banking system in a period of unprecedented stress,” said Jerry Dubrowski, a spokesman for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company. “At the time we were participating, we weren’t experiencing liquidity issues.”
Bank of America would later need $45 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds after the acquisitions of Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. strained capital. The documents were part of thousands of pages released today, three years after Bloomberg LP requested details of the central bank’s support to firms during the financial crisis.
The regulator had never revealed who used the discount window since it began lending in 1914. Bloomberg News is posting the raw documents here for subscribers to the Bloomberg Professional Service as well as online at www.bloomberg.com.
The bank bought $2 billion in preferred stock in Countrywide on Aug. 22 to help keep the ailing subprime home lender afloat, then announced a complete takeover of Countrywide in January 2008. The August 2007 discount-window loans were unrelated to Bank of America’s investment in Countrywide, Dubrowski said. The firm repaid its TARP rescue loans in 2009.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Wachovia Corp. also borrowed $500 million from the Fed that month, Bank of America said in a joint Aug. 22, 2007 statement. Citigroup Inc. (C) said separately it borrowed $500 million. Total borrowing from the discount window, the Fed’s oldest lending program, soared to $111 billion in the week ended Oct. 29, 2008.
While Bank of America and the three other firms have “substantial liquidity and the capacity to borrow money elsewhere on more favorable terms, the companies believe it is important at this time to take a leadership role in demonstrating the potential value” of the discount window, according to the statement.
Bank of America is the only U.S. lender among the biggest four that didn’t announce a higher dividend after the Fed finished a review of the companies’ financial health and capital plans this month. The Fed rejected the lender’s request for a “modest boost” to its 1-cent per-share dividend this year, Bank of America said on March 23.
Bloomberg News has posted the Fed documents for Bloomberg Professional Service subscribers, as well as online at www.bloomberg.com.
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