That’s the conclusion of Bloomberg after analyzing 29,346 pages of documents released by the Fed only because Bloomberg went all the way to the US Supreme Court to obtain them.
The top 10 recipients alone account for 56% of the total. The $669 billion these 10 borrowed is, um, rather larger than the “official bailout figure” of $160 billion represented by the TARP program.
Barry Ritholtz writes:
Imagine if the government and the Federal Reserve were run not by knaves and fools and Wall Street sycophants, but instead, were run honestly for the benefit of the taxpaying voter. Imagine the goal was saving the banking system (not the banks), and the financial rescue was for the benefit of the taxpayers, not the bondholders. Naive thoughts, I totally understand, but hear me out.
A person who truly understood what had happened and why would have considered the following actions. Note these are not ideas come about with the benefit of hindsight, but what a small band of insightful people were saying at the time.
An honest broker of the situation would have:
1. Fire the senior management of the banks (see this)
2. Banned all lobbying activity as a condition of any aid (see this)
Instead, we bailed out the bondholders and management, choking off hope for a robust recovery. We are in fact slowly turning Japanese, awaiting the next recession (and the next and the next).