Now that the Federal Reserve has made public thousands of documents about its emergency lending during the financial crisis, House Republican lawmakers want to know how the central bank will continue to disclose its transactions with banks going forward.
Texas Republican Ron Paul, chairman of a House Financial Services subcommittee and long-time critic of the Fed, will question two senior Fed officials at a Wednesday hearing on the Fed’s transparency.
“While we are still far away from an acceptable level of transparency, it is still true that an unprecedented amount of information on the Fed’s actions has been disclosed to the public,” Paul said in a statement. “I hope that we will gain a better understanding of the Fed’s credit facilities, the working relationship between the New York Fed and the Board of Governors, and a roadmap for future Fed data disclosures.”
Testifying at the hearing will be Scott Alvarez, general counsel to the Fed’s board of governors, and Thomas Baxter, general counsel to the New York Fed.
Last December, under orders from Congress, the Fed posted on its website documents and spreadsheets about trillions of dollars it loaned to U.S. and foreign banks, companies and funds through emergency lending facilities created to unfreeze credit markets in late 2008.
The document dump included the amount of each loan and interest rate, as well as details about the Fed’s purchase of risky mortgage-backed securities and commercial paper from banks and big companies. It also revealed the Fed loaned money to individual investors such as Christy Mack, the wife of Morgan Stanley’s former chief executive; to several state-owned banks; and to foreign automakers.
In March, under court order, the Fed released data for the first time about borrowers at its discount window. U.S. banks can get immediate cash from the Fed’s discount window with a phone call.
The Dodd-Frank law requires the Fed to disclose — two years after the transaction date — information about discount window borrowers and those participating in open market operations transactions. Should the Fed tap its emergency powers again in the future to create other lending facilities, information about those borrowers must be made public one year after the facility is ended.
Other Congressional hearings, rulemaking deadlines and events related to the Dodd-Frank reform law this week:
Tuesday, May 31
Executive pay – Deadline for public comments to the Fed and other banking regulators on a proposal that would prohibit banks with $1 billion or more in assets from offering executives incentive-based compensation that could expose them to inappropriate risks.
Bankruptcy law – Deadline for public comments on the Fed’s plan to study the effectiveness of the U.S. bankruptcy law’s Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 for financial companies, whether a special resolution court for financial companies should be created, and if other changes should be made to the federal bankruptcy law to support the orderly resolution or reorganization of financial companies.
Big bank insurance – Deadline for public comments on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp’s proposed guidelines to calculate the deposit insurance assessment rates of the biggest U.S. banks.
Wednesday, June 1
Fed disclosures – U.S. House Financial Services subcommittee holds a hearing on the Fed’s disclosures of emergency lending programs during the financial crisis. Testifying will be Thomas Baxter, general counsel of the New York Fed, and Scott Alvarez, general counsel of the Fed board of governors. Begins at 1400 ET.
Global financial system – U.S. House Financial Services Committee holds semi-annual hearing on the state of the international financial system with testimony from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Begins at 1000 ET and will be webcast.
Thursday, June 2
Unbanked households – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s advisory committee on economic inclusion meets to discuss the state of low- and moderate-income household finance. Meeting begins at 0845 ET and will be webcast.
Friday, June 3
HOME program – House Financial Services Committee holds a hearing on the oversight of HUD’s HOME program. Begins at 0930 ET and will be webcast.
Collateral protection – Commodity Futures Trading Commission holds a public roundtable to discuss the protection of cleared swaps customer collateral. Begins at 0930 ET.
Derivatives rules – Deadline for public comments on more than a dozen Commodity Futures Trading Commission proposed derivatives rules. The June 3 deadline is an extension of the comment deadlines originally set for these proposals.
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