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Fed releases ‘secret’ information

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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Under court order, the Federal Reserve has released 25,000 pages of bank names and secret information the central bank has never before let the public see. The release shows which banks borrowed money from the Fed’s so-called discount window during the height of the financial crisis.

Matt Winkler is editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, the organization that filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act to get the data. Matt, good morning.

MATT WINKLER: Good morning.

CHIOTAKIS: What are we going to learn at the end of the day from all of this? I mean, give me sort of a broad perspective of what kind of information, what kind of knowledge, we’re going to have after we look at all of these pages?

WINKLER: We’re going to find out who was most in need, and when. And how those needs were met by the Federal Reserve during this period.

CHIOTAKIS: Now, you all at Bloomberg fought to see these names. Why didn’t the banks want this information public?

WINKLER: Suffice to say, that the lender-of-last-resort is the Federal Reserve. The discount window is where this lending takes place. We went through an unprecedented financial crisis and in that period, all kinds of financial institutions, banks mostly, sought the assistance of the Federal Reserve through the discount window. And given that this was such a momentous period in American history, and the Federal Reserve is after all the bank of the people of the United States, it’s so important for all of us to know what was the Fed doing with your money and mine and with which institutions and what were the details.

CHIOTAKIS: You know, it’s interesting to me that the Fed is so secretive in its ways anyway. Does this, do you think, change the way the Fed operates? I mean are we going to see more of this?

WINKLER: I think it’s a wonderful day for this country that we are at the point now where the courts have said what is done with our money by the central bank is a matter of concern for all of us. And for the first time, we are the beneficiaries of this judgment.

CHIOTAKIS: Matt Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg news. Matt, thank you.

WINKLER: My pleasure.

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