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Bernanke criticizes news reports on Fed’s emergency lending

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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said recent news articles about the central bank’s emergency lending contain “egregious errors.”

“The articles recycle information that has been disclosed to the Congress and the American people in various forms for some time,” Bernanke said in letters to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and the three other senior lawmakers who oversee the Fed. The Fed posted the letters and an accompanying four-page staff memo on its website Tuesday.

The Fed was compelled to identify financial-crisis loan recipients by Congress under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and by courts after losing lawsuits brought by Bloomberg News and News Corp.’s Fox News Network. The Bernanke letter and staff memo, without identifying any news organization, referred to points from a Nov. 28 Bloomberg article, which was based on an analysis of public data.

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“The disclosure issues raised in these articles have already been addressed and settled, first by the Federal Reserve through a variety of reports and public postings, and then by Congress after a public debate,” Bernanke said in the letter.

The Fed staff’s memo is billed as a “correction of recent press reports.” The central bank never kept the creation of any lending program secret, and while the names of borrowers weren’t revealed until Congress required some disclosures, the Fed reported regularly on overall balances in the facilities and showed average aggregate loans for the largest borrowers each month, the memo said. “Congress was well informed of the volume of borrowing by large banks,” it said.

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