UK banks borrowed more than $1 trillion from US Federal Reserve

British banks borrowed more than $1 trillion (£640bn) from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis, led by Barclays following its swoop on the US business of Lehman Brothers.

Dees Illustration

Richard Blackden and Harry Wilson

The disclosures came because the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act forced the Fed to reveal which banks and companies it lent money to in an effort to shore up the financial system from the end of December 2007 onwards.

It released the details of more than 21,000 individual transactions on its website on Wednesday, which showed that British banks represented more than a third – about $1.5 trillion – of the $3,300bn lent by the US authorities to prop up the financial sector.

Barclays borrowed $863bn from the Fed, with almost half coming in overnight loans through the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, a programme established by the central bank to help those banks that deal in US Treasuries.

Barclays has since repaid all its loans and said that much of its then borrowing was down to its purchase of Lehman’s US business.

Royal Bank of Scotland borrowed $446bn, Bank of Scotland $181bn, Abbey National $19bn and HSBC borrowed less than $10bn.

The figures for the banks represent the total amount they borrowed and not the total outstanding borrowing at any one point.

RBS said it no longer used any of the Fed scheme and had “significantly reduced” its borrowing from central banks.

The Fed said on Wednesday that the fact banks from across the world has tapped its emergency lending “reflected the severe market disruptions during the financial crisis and generally did not reflect participants’ financial weakness”.

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