WASHINGTON — For only the second time in its history, the Federal Reserve Board on Friday publicly revealed the names of financial institutions that borrowed at the discount window.
The data was required to be released by the Dodd-Frank Act, and was already dated, detailing borrowing at the window during the third quarter of 2010.
But it still presented a fascinating insight into what had previously been a confidential transaction.
Among the 360 financial institutions to participate in overnight lending two years ago were the $167 million-asset United National Bank, based in Cairo, Ga., the $1.6 billion-asset Horizon Bank, based in Michigan City, Ind. and the $562 million-asset Arthur State Bank, based in Union, S.C.
Institutions borrowed roughly $103 million in the nearly 740 transactions that occurred between July 22, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2010.
Fed officials described the quarterly activity as a relatively quiet period. At the time, the central bank had closed its entire emergency lending program and had just completed its first large scale asset purchase program. The Fed had not yet announced plans to purchase long-term Treasury securities under the second round of asset purchases, or what is commonly known as QE2.
The Fed regularly publishes aggregate data of borrowing under its discount window on a weekly basis, which allows banks to borrow on a short-term basis to meet temporary liquidity needs, at a rate of 50 basis points higher than the current market rate.
But it has resisted providing this level of detail for each transaction, including the name of the borrower, the amount borrowed, its interest rate and information about the collateral pledged.
Under a compromise in the financial reform law signed in 2010, the Fed must now disclose discount window data on a quarterly basis after a roughly two-year lag time.
(The Fed had previously released some discount window borrowing information concerning its borrowing during the financial crisis after a lawsuit compelled it to do so. But Friday's release marked the first regular disclosure of such data.)
Financial institutions were notified by the central bank of the regular public disclosures, according to Fed officials.
While bankers had expressed reluctance to borrow from the window following the passage of Dodd-Frank given the new disclosure requirements, Fed officials said they did not feel it was entirely responsible for the drop in activity in the third quarter of 2010.
Bankers' primary concern is that public disclosure of their borrowing could trigger speculation they are in financial trouble. To avoid such market turbulence, the Fed fought during the drafting of the financial reform law to ensure there was a sufficient delay in providing the information to the public.
Fed officials did not specify whether there were any institutions that had borrowed at the discount window during this period that failed at a later stage, but said they would not be surprised if such an event occurred in later quarters in some cases.