IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Federal Reserve lending to troubled banks during the financial crisis, 2007-10


  • R. Alton Gilbert
  • Kevin L. Kliesen
  • Andrew P. Meyer
  • David C. Wheelock


Numerous commentaries have questioned both the legality and appropriateness of Federal Reserve lending to banks during the recent financial crisis. This article addresses two questions motivated by such commentary: 1) Did the Federal Reserve violate either the letter or spirit of the law by lending to undercapitalized banks? 2) Did Federal Reserve credit constitute a large fraction of the deposit liabilities of failed banks during their last year prior to failure? The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991 (FDICIA) imposed limits on the number of days that the Federal Reserve may lend to undercapitalized or critically undercapitalized depository institutions. We find no evidence that the Federal Reserve ever exceeded statutory limits during the recent financial crisis, recession and recovery periods. In most cases, the number of days that Federal Reserve credit was extended to an undercapitalized or critically undercapitalized depository institution was appreciably less than the number of days permitted under law. Furthermore, compared with patterns of Fed lending during 1985-90, we find that few banks that failed during 2008-10 borrowed from the Fed during their last year prior to failure, and only a few had outstanding Fed loans when they failed. Moreover, Federal Reserve loans averaged less than 1 percent of total deposit liabilities among nearly all banks that did borrow from the Fed during their last year. It is impossible to know whether the enactment of FDICIA explains differences in Federal Reserve lending practices during 2007-10 and the previous period of financial distress in the 1980s. However, it does seem clear that Federal Reserve lending to depository institutions during the recent episode was consistent with the Congressional intent of this legislation.

Suggested Citation

  • R. Alton Gilbert & Kevin L. Kliesen & Andrew P. Meyer & David C. Wheelock, 2012. "Federal Reserve lending to troubled banks during the financial crisis, 2007-10," Working Papers 2012-006, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2012-006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Spong, 2000. "Banking regulation : its purposes, implementation, and effects," Monograph, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, number 2000bria, Jan 17.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mark Carlson & Burcu Duygan-Bump & William Nelson, 2015. "Why do we need both liquidity regulations and a lender of last resort? A perspective from Federal Reserve lending during the 2007-09 US financial crisis," BIS Working Papers 493, Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Chang, Su-Hsin & Contessi, Silvio & Francis, Johanna L., 2014. "Understanding the accumulation of bank and thrift reserves during the U.S. financial crisis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 78-106.
    3. Céline Gauthier & Alfred Lehar & Héctor Pérez Saiz & Moez Souissi, 2015. "Emergency Liquidity Facilities, Signalling and Funding Costs," Staff Working Papers 15-44, Bank of Canada.
    4. Mark A. Carlson & David C. Wheelock, 2012. "The lender of last resort: lessons from the Fed’s first 100 years," Working Papers 2012-056, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

    More about this item


    Financial crises ; Discount window ; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2012-006. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kathy Cosgrove). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.