I guess this is a big CRS news day! Huffington Post reported on 4/26 that a newly released Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report requested by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) found that the nation’s largest banks profited off the federal government’s bailout programs by borrowing cash for next to nothing, then lending it back to the federal government at substantially higher rates. The report has been posted at Sanders’ Web site (PDF).
A newly-released study from the Congressional Research Service bolsters claims that the nation’s largest banks profited off the Federal Reserve’s financial crisis-era programs by borrowing cash for next to nothing, then lending it back to the federal government at substantially higher rates.
The report reinforces long-held beliefs that the banking system in essence engaged in taxpayer-financed arbitrage: They got money for free, then lent it back to Uncle Sam while collecting juicy returns. Left out of the equation are the millions of everyday borrowers, like households and small businesses, who were unable to secure loans needed to tide them over until the crisis ended.
The Fed released records under pressure in December and March that showed the extent of its largesse. The CRS study shows for the first time how some of the most sophisticated financial firms could have taken the Fed’s money and flipped easy profits simply by lending it back to another arm of the government.