Friday, December 23, 2011
Fed’s Once-Secret Data Released to Public
Bloomberg News today released spreadsheets showing daily borrowing totals for 407 banks and companies that tapped Federal Reserve emergency programs during the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis. It’s the first time such data have been publicly available in this form.
To download a zip file of the spreadsheets, go to http://bit.ly/Bloomberg-Fed-Data. For an explanation of the files, see the one labeled “1a Fed Data Roadmap.”
The day-by-day, bank-by-bank numbers, culled from about 50,000 transactions the U.S. central bank made through seven facilities, formed the basis of a series of Bloomberg News articles this year about the largest financial bailout in history.
“Scholars can now examine the data and continue the analysis of the Fed’s crisis management,” said Allan H. Meltzer, a professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the author of three books on the history of the U.S. central bank.
The data reflect lending from the Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility, the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, the Term Auction Facility, the Term Securities Lending Facility, the discount window and single-tranche open market operations, or ST OMO.
Bloomberg News obtained information about the discount window and ST OMO through the Freedom of Information Act. While the Fed initially rejected a request for discount-window information, Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, filed a federal lawsuit to force disclosure and won in the lower courts. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to intervene in the case, and the Fed released more than 29,000 pages of transaction data.
The Fed later supplied additional data to fill in gaps in its initial response. Bloomberg News is updating an interactive graphic it first published in August to add the new information.
Congress required the Fed to post data to its website in December 2010 on six broad-based programs, its assistance to Bear Stearns Cos. and American International Group Inc. (AIG) and more general information on its mortgage-backed securities purchases and so-called foreign-currency liquidity swaps. Those data were presented in spreadsheets that made it difficult to gauge how much individual banks were borrowing from the various programs on any given day.
Some reported totals from media outlets and government studies varied widely. In connection with today’s release, here’s a by-the-numbers explanation of the variations:
$1.2 trillion -- The Fed’s actual lending to banks and financial companies at its single-day peak, Dec. 5, 2008, through the seven programs Bloomberg News studied in depth.
Emergency measures that targeted specific companies -- Bear Stearns, AIG, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. -- were excluded from Bloomberg’s analysis because they were previously disclosed. Loans to these companies from the other seven programs were included.
Bloomberg excluded foreign-currency liquidity swaps because names of commercial banks that borrowed under the program haven’t been disclosed to the public.
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