A Closer Look at Federal Reserve Loans

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says one reason he's abandoned plans to buy up toxic mortgage securities is that they are just too hard to put a concrete value on, since no one else is interested in buying them.

But that hasn't stopped his colleagues at the Federal Reserve from making emergency loans to banks, totaling $2 trillion so far this year, and taking bad assets as collateral.

Put another way, the Fed has already lent out about seven times as much money as the Treasury has spent. It's attracted a lot less media attention and we the taxpayers can't independently assess how risky those bets are.

Bloomberg News has been trying to get to the bottom of the story. They've filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Reserve.

But as Bloomberg News editor in chief Matt Winkler told Brooke Gladstone recently on On The Media, so far, they've been unable to get even the most basic facts.


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