Never give up during a worthy fight. That’s what Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler showed us today after winning a U.S. Supreme Court decision after a couple years fighting the Federal Reserve to disclose details of emergency loans it made to banks in 2008. (The suit was brought by both the FOX Business Network and Bloomberg News under the Freedom of Information Act.)
In October 2009, I interviewed Winkler and he said, “While the Federal Reserve and the banks that have joined the Fed’s appeal assert that disclosure of tax dollars secretly used to rescue financial institutions will stigmatize banks, Americans have the right to know how they became involuntary investors in an unprecedented bailout in the greatest financial crisis of our time.”
A year later, the Federal Reserve chose not to join an appeal by The Clearing House Association LLC — a group of the biggest commercial banks — asking the U.S. Supreme Court to let the government continue to withhold details of emergency loans made to financial firms in 2008.
Now, victory belongs to The People in an unprecedented win for Federal Reserve transparency. Winkler responded to the Supreme Court move by stating:
“At some point long before the credit markets seized up in 2007, financial markets collapsed and the economy plunged into the worst recession since the 1930s, the Federal Reserve forgot that it is the central bank for the people of the United States and not a private academy where decisions of great importance may be withheld from public scrutiny. As only Congress has the constitutional power to coin money, Congress delegates that power to the Fed and the Fed must be accountable to Congress, especially in disclosing what it does with the people’s money.”
The ruling “marks the first time a court has forced the Fed to reveal the names of banks that borrowed from its oldest lending program, the 98-year-old discount window. The disclosures, together with details of six bailout programs released by the central bank in December under a congressional mandate, would give taxpayers insight into the Fed’s unprecedented $3.5 trillion effort to stem the 2008 financial panic.”