June 15, 2012 (TSR)- A report just released by the US Government Accountability Office explains how the Federal Reserve divvied up more than $4 trillion in low-interest loans after the fiscal crisis of 2008, and the news shouldn’t be all that surprising.
When the Federal Reserve looked towards bailing out some of the biggest banks in the country, more than one dozen of the financial institutions that benefited from the Fed’s Hail Mary were members of the central bank’s own board, reports the GAO. At least 18 current and former directors of the Fed’s regional branches saw to it that their own banks were awarded loans with often next-to-no interest by the country’s central bank during the height of the financial crisis that crippled the American economy and spurred rampant unemployment and home foreclosures for those unable to receive assistance.
Although the crisis continues to have an effect on Americans that were devastated by the recession, the banks that survived the near meltdown were largely able to do so because some of their CEOs sat on the same Federal Reserve board the decided on how to dish out trillions of dollars.
“This report reveals the inherent conflicts of interest that exist at the Federal Reserve,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) says in a statement about the report. “At a time when small businesses could not get affordable loans to create jobs, the Fed was providing trillions in secret loans to some of the largest banks and corporations in America that were well represented on the boards of the Federal Reserve Banks,” adds Mr. Sanders. “These conflicts must end.”
The GAO’s report is believed to mark the first time that the Fed’s records about their major bailout identifying the parties involved to the public.
In a press release published on the official US Senate website for Mr. Sanders, the lawmakers singles out JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon over an alleged conflict of interest that could have contributed to the bailout his bank received through the Fed. Sanders also calls out General Electric CEO Jefferey Immelt for sitting on the same Federal Reserve board that approved massive funding to GE during a time of financial insecurity in the United States.
Sen. Sanders’ office has released a report summarizing the information published by the GAO in a four page document hosted on his website titled “Jamie Dimon Is Not Alone.”
“Jamie Dimon, the Chairman a CEO of JPMorgan Chase, has served on the Board of Directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2007,” the report mentions. “During the financial crisis, the Fed provided JPMorgan Chase with $391 billion in total financial assistance. JPMorgan Chase was also used by the Fed as a clearinghouse for the Fed’s emergency lending programs.”
One year later, the report notes, the Fed handed Dimon’s bank $29 billion to help acquire Bear Stearns. In the case of General Electric’s Immelt, Sanders recalls that the Fed handed over $16 billion in low-interest financing to GE during the five-year span that the company’s CEO sat on the Federal Reserve’s board of directors.
Other Fed members that benefited by the bailout include officials at the top of Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, SunTrust Banks and PNC, among others.
Testifying before the US Senate Banking Committee this week, Dimon apologized for a recent JP Morgan Chase in-trading gaffe that cost the institute billions.