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Bloomberg Uncovers the Fed’s Secret Liquidity Lifelines

August 22, 2011

Three years and 29,000 pages of Fed documents later, Bloomberg uncovered the who, what, when and a lot more in its investigation of the 21,000 loans to banks totaling as much as $1.2 trillion in public money.

I’ll start by saying that Bloomberg was built on the core principle of transparency – fast access to information that could increase capital flow and economic growth. We also believe that the public has a right to know. (For a timeline of Bloomberg’s lawsuit against the Fed, see below.)

You can check out our news stories, starting with how Morgan Stanley led banks tapping into fed money, on our Fed Loan Disclosure topic page. (They’ll be more to come over the next couple of days.) And, of course, in the spirit of transparency, we’ve built an interactive data visualization that allows you to view all the numbers so you can answer questions like: What was the largest amount of money any one institution borrowed? Who took advantage of the programs for the longest amount of time? Which foreign institutions received funds?

 The visualization also lets you dive deep into each institution’s history with the lending programs, or compare the borrowing habits of multiple institutions with each other. The data can be displayed and sorted based on a number of variables such as peak amount borrowed, average balances, location, or industry. One of the most noteworthy features is being able to look at what company executives were saying when the value of the loans were astronomical. Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, a German commercial property lender, is a good example. Look at what they said when they were borrowing about $21 million per employee.


 Timeline of Bloomberg’s lawsuit against the Fed


– May 21, 2008:  Bloomberg files a Freedom of Information Act request. The Fed denies this request

–  Nov. 7, 2008:  Bloomberg files suit to require disclosure [Bloomberg LP v. Federal Reserve, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)].

–  Aug. 24, 2009:  Judge Loretta Preska rules that the Fed must disclose this information

–  Sept. 30, 2009: Fed appeals decision

–  Jan. 12, 2010: U.S. Court of Appeals hears oral arguments

–  March 19, 2010: Appeals court upholds Preska decision

 –  May 4, 2010: Fed and Clearing House ask full U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn Preska ruling

–  Aug. 23, 2010: Full appeals panel refuses to overturn Preska ruling

–  Aug. 27, 2010: Court of Appeals gives Federal Reserve 60 days to decide on taking the case to the Supreme Court

–  Oct. 26, 2010: Federal Reserve decides not to join the Clearing House Association in asking the Supreme Court to consider an appeal.

–  Feb. 19, 2011: U.S. Solicitor General recommends the Supreme Court reject the Clearing House’s appeal.

–  March 21, 2011: Supreme Court rejects appeal and orders release of bank loan data



Meghan Womack, communications for Bloomberg News