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Banks Got $1.2 Trillion In 'Secret' Fed Loans

Staff Reporters |
August 22, 2011 | 12:11 p.m. PDT

After a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, Bloomberg got its hands on the data relating to $1.2 trillion that the Federal Reserve lent to banks and other companies to keep the financial system afloat during the 2008 crisis. Morgan Stanley received $107 billion in loans from the Fed, the most of any bank. And the money trail is not limited to the states. Foreign banks made up about half of the top 30 borrowers from the Fed:

Federal Reserve chairman (Ben Bernanke)
Federal Reserve chairman (Ben Bernanke)

They included Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, which took $84.5 billion, the most of any non-U.S. lender, and Zurich-based UBS AG (UBSN), which got $77.2 billion. Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding AG borrowed $28.7 billion, an average of $21 million for each of its 1,366 employees.

The largest borrowers also included Dexia SA (DEXB), Belgium’s biggest bank by assets, and Societe Generale SA, based in Paris, whose bond-insurance prices have surged in the past month as investors speculated that the spreading sovereign debt crisis in Europe might increase their chances of default. They included Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, which took $84.5 billion, the most of any non-U.S. lender, and Zurich-based UBS AG (UBSN), which got $77.2 billion. Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding AG borrowed $28.7 billion, an average of $21 million for each of its 1,366 employees.

The report suggests that, without the loans, the financial system would have fallen apart due largely to the trove of subprime mortgages held by banks. Some who were against the bailouts in the first place, like Barry Ritholtz, say the banks are likely still insolvent.

"The juiciest nugget you're most likely to hear from cable news tonight is that the Fed's secret bailout comes out to the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages," wrote Derek Thompson of the Atlantic.

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