Documents produced by the Federal Reserve in response to an order from the Supreme Court show that Bernanke loaned billions to foreign banks through its discount window. As Bloomberg – which brought the lawsuit which resulted in the document release – notes:
The biggest borrowers from the 97-year-old discount window as the program reached its crisis-era peak were foreign banks, accounting for at least 70 percent of the $110.7 billion borrowed during the week in October 2008 when use of the program surged to a record. The disclosures may stoke a reexamination of the risks posed to U.S. taxpayers by the central bank’s role in global financial markets.
“The caricature of the Fed is that it was shoveling money to big New York banks and a bunch of foreigners, and that is not conducive to its long-run reputation,” said Vincent Reinhart, the Fed’s director of monetary affairs from 2001 to 2007.
“The American people are going to be outraged when they understand what has been going on,” U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the Fed, said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
“What in the world are we doing thinking we can pass out tens of billions of dollars to banks that are overseas?” said Paul, who has advocated abolishing the Fed. “We have problems here at home with people not being able to pay their mortgages, and they’re losing their homes.”
Indeed, billions of dollars worth of loans went to Libya. Senator Sanders asks why we loaned billions to Libya:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today questioned why the Federal Reserve provided more than $26 billion in credit to an Arab intermediary for the Central Bank of Libya.
Sanders also asked why the Libyan-owned bank and two of its branches in New York, N.Y., were exempted from sanctions that the United States this month slapped on other Libyan businesses to pressure Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s government.
“It is incomprehensible to me that while creditworthy small businesses in Vermont and throughout the country could not receive affordable loans, the Federal Reserve was providing tens of billions of dollars in credit to a bank that is substantially owned by the Central Bank of Libya,” Sanders said.
In the same letter, Sanders asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner why the Treasury Department on March 4 let the Libya-controlled bank skirt the economic sanctions against Libya.
The senator also questioned why the Bahrain-based Arab Banking Corp. is even allowed to operate branches inside United States. “Why would the U.S. government allow a bank that is predominantly owned by the Central Bank of Libya – an institution on which the U.S. has imposed strict economic sanctions –to operate two banking branches within our own borders?” Sanders asked.
Previous information released by the Fed shows that foreign banks were also huge recipients of the Term Auction Facility commercial paper.