Fed Transparency has a New Hero... Maybe.
I'll believe it when I see it. Leading up to the point when the Fed actually starts naming names, this is just the show before dinner.
For over a year, the Federal Reserve has refused to publicly identify the companies that received over two trillion dollars through its emergency lending programs, claiming that disclosure of such records would put the recipients at a competitive disadvantage.
Now, the ultimate decision on the Fed's appeal of a judicial order to release those records rests with the government's top lawyer, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who has been a strong proponent of the need for transparency in government.
The Fed has fought against public disclosure, arguing "it will cause irreparable harm to the institutions whose information is disclosed and to the Board's ability to effectively manage the current, and any future, financial crisis." The central bank also has refused to disclose the amounts or the assets put up as collateral under 11 emergency lending programs.
Like I said, blah blah blah blah. Show us the names.
It looks promising. And it's certainly progress to some extent. Now I suppose we're going to have to define what branch of government the Fed really is.
The "using Obama's words against him" tactic is respectable but not entirely logical; look at who we're dealing with here for a moment. There is no precedent.
"The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable," he said Jan. 21. "And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law."In-ter-est-iiiiiing.
Kagan, who left her post as dean of Harvard Law School to join the administration, has written about the need for transparency. In a 2001 law review article about presidential administration and bureaucracy, she noted:
"Bureaucracy is the ultimate black box of government ... [it] is impervious to full public understanding, much less control. But for this very reason, the need for transparency, as an aid to holding governmental decisionmakers to account, here reaches its apex."
A raft of news organizations, including Dow Jones, the New York Times, the Associated Press and Gannett Newspapers plan to side with Bloomberg by filing a friend of the court brief, Bloomberg notes.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said Kagan's office is reviewing the case. No decision has been made.