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.
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”.
The emergency measures by the Fed helped swell the country’s deficit, something that was labelled on Wednesday as the greatest threat to America’s prosperity and security.
The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform made the warning as it recommended sweeping cuts in government spending and an overhaul of the tax system.
The commission, which was appointed by President Barack Obama in February, laid out a plan to cut the US budget deficit to 2.3pc of gross domestic product by 2015 from 9pc this year. Savings need to be found across all departments, including defence and healthcare programmes such as Medicaid, it said.
“Our challenge is clear and inescapable: America cannot be great if we go broke,” the report, entitled The Moment of Truth, said.
It called for $200bn in savings to be made by the government in a plan that argues no programme should be sacrosanct.
The government can save $13.2bn by 2015 by cutting 200,000 jobs, 10pc of Federal employees, while $800m can be saved by cutting the budgets of Congress and the White House by 15pc.
By Richard Blackden and Harry Wilson 6:00AM GMT 02 Dec 2010
Source: The Telegraph