Goldman Sachs & Co., a unit of the most profitable bank in Wall Street history, took $15 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve on Dec. 9, 2008, the biggest single loan from a lending program whose details have been secret until today.
The central bank released data for its $80 billion initiative, called single-tranche open-market operations, or ST OMO, which made 28-day loans between March 7, 2008, and Dec. 30, 2008, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg News.
ST OMO is the last known Fed crisis lending program to have its details made public. The central bank resisted previous FOIA requests for more than two years and released information in March on its oldest loan facility, the discount window, only after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it had to. When Congress mandated the December 2010 release of other data on the Fed’s unprecedented $3.5 trillion response to the 2007-2009 collapse in credit markets, ST OMO wasn’t included.
Units of 19 banks received the loans, which were all repaid in full, according to the Fed. The units are known as primary dealers, which are designated to trade government securities directly with the New York Fed.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted 44 ST OMO auctions, according to its website. Banks bid the interest rate they were willing to pay for the loans, which had terms of 28 days. That was an expansion of longstanding open-market operations, which offered cash for up to two weeks.
Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank, had $45 billion in loans outstanding on Aug. 27, 2008 -- the largest peak borrowing amount, the data show. Karen Laureano- Rikardsen, a spokeswoman for Credit Suisse in New York, said she couldn’t immediately comment. Six of the program’s top seven borrowers were units of foreign banks, the data show.
Goldman Sachs’s peak outstanding loans were second-highest at $34.5 billion on Dec. 31, 2008, when interest rates were at their lowest, according to the data. Michael DuVally, a spokesman for New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the parent company of the primary dealer, declined to comment.
The New York Fed posted aggregate data about the program on its website after each auction, said Jeffrey V. Smith, a New York Fed spokesman. By increasing the availability of short-term financing when private lenders were under pressure, “this program helped alleviate strains in financial markets and support the flow of credit to U.S. households and businesses,” he said. All of the ST OMO loans were repaid.
Lehman Brothers Inc. had two loans totaling $2 billion outstanding when its parent investment bank filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history on Sept. 15, 2008, the data show. Those loans were repaid on Oct. 8, 2008, the report said. Lehman’s peak borrowings from ST OMO reached $18 billion on June 25, 2008, according to the data.
RBS Securities Inc., a unit of Britain’s second-biggest bank by market capitalization, had $31.5 billion in loans outstanding on Oct. 8, 2008, and UBS Securities LLC, part of Switzerland’s biggest bank, borrowed as much as $20.5 billion Nov. 26, 2008, the Fed said.
Among the smallest loans was one to Bear Stearns & Co., the primary dealer unit of Bear Stearns Cos. The primary dealer took one loan from ST OMO for $500 million, on March 12, 2008, according to the release. JPMorgan Chase & Co. bought the New York-based investment bank four days later. The loan was repaid on April 9, 2008, the data show.
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