By Ben Berkowitz and Pedro da Costa
WASHINGTON Dec 28 First Tennessee Bank and a
U.S. affiliate of Spanish bank BBVA were among the
largest borrowers from the Federal Reserve's emergency lending
program in late 2010, according to data released on Friday.
By far the largest loan in the quarter was the roughly $1.02
billion that First Horizon unit First Tennessee
borrowed on Nov. 24, 2010 for a two-day term. That one loan
represented about 29 percent of all primary credit lending from
the discount window for the quarter.
Company officials said they took the loan because of a
technical problem relating to wire transfers between the bank
and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Because it was the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, and the
wire transfer glitches were taking too long to repair, First
Tennessee agreed to take the loan as a stopgap until the holiday
ended and the problems were fixed.
The BBVA unit borrowed $200 million in two transactions. A
representative of the parent company in Spain said the
transactions were a routine test of the discount window
mechanism by its U.S. wholesale unit and said it conducts
similar operations every year.
The Fed began releasing the data earlier this year, albeit
with a two-year lag, under the terms of the Dodd-Frank financial
reform law. The central bank had lobbied to keep such lending
figures private for fear it could create a stigma for emergency
loans in the future.
This type of Fed lending was aimed at maintaining day to day
liquidity in the banking system, a staple of crisis central
banking. In contrast, the goal of the controversial Troubled
Asset Relief Program or TARP was to actively recapitalize
One small but frequent borrower during the final quarter of
2010 was First National Bank of Jeffersonville, New York. A
spokesperson could did not return a request for comment.
Another active participant in the Fed's lending program was
Grand Bank of Hamilton, New Jersey. Linda Niro, a representative
of the bank, said the funds helped a subsidiary lender in
Irvine, California continue making mortgage loans.
Some 456 separate financial institutions took loans of one
kind or another during the quarter.