Fed Freedom of Information? You're Joking Right?

Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha LMFAO! Fed FOIA! That's hilarious.

VDARE (courtesy of Steve Sailer):

Recently, I’ve been trying to answer the question that nobody else wants asked about the causes of the Great Recession: what percentage of defaulted mortgage dollars did minorities account for?

In doing so, I’ve stumbled upon another important conundrum: As the Federal Reserve continues to take on more power, are the twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks above the law?

Specifically, can the Fed evade the Freedom of Information Act by claiming that the regional Federal Reserve Banks are private institutions not subject to the FOIA?

As you’ll recall, as part of the crusade against “racist” redlining, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), passed by Congress in 1975 and implemented by the Federal Reserve Board's Regulation C, tracks whether lending institutions give enough mortgage dollars to minorities.

The government, however, does not track whether minorities pay back these loans.

My theory has been that you get more of what you measure, and less of what you don’t measure. If the federal government tracks lending to minorities but not repayments by minorities, we’ll inevitably tend toward seeing more of the former and less of the latter.

He continues - and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why NY Fed was put in charge of the Bear bailout, among other things (is it a big surprise that NY Fed's markets desk is also in the business of blatant Treasury manipulation? Nah, now it should make perfect sense).

So I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Federal Reserve Board in Washington D.C. asking for the 58 raw numbers in Laderman and Reid’s work that I needed to calculate the unadjusted foreclosure rates. I offered to pay for the clerical work necessary to email them to me.

After many weeks of delay, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve replied with an “adverse determination” denying my request.

They offered two excuses:

* “The information you seek does not currently exist in the form you request.”

Since it obviously does exist in readily available form (Laderman and Reid couldn’t publish the adjusted ratios without first calculating the unadjusted ratios), the Board of Governors quickly moved on to the heart of their rationalization for refusal:

* “Even assuming the information could be derived and produced in the format you seek, the resulting table, like the underlying data set would be a record of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, not the Board. Accordingly, we cannot provide you with any such information.”

In other words, sure, we’ll admit that the Freedom of Information Act applies to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, but the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is a private entity, so it’s above the law.

This sounded absurd, but I quickly discovered that the Board of Governors had made the exact same defense when Bloomberg News sued the Fed under the FOIA to get the inside story on the bailout of Bear Sterns in 2008. The Fed Board of Governors replied, in effect, “Hey, that wasn’t us, that was the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that bailed out Bear Stearns. And they ain’t subject to the FOIA. Ha-ha!”

Steve also writes for The American Conservative if you are interested.

Here's all the stuff the Board of Governors will not provide via FOIA, whether or not there is a regional Fed bank involved. That's quite a list, anything they missed? How about criminal misdeeds?

Via the Board:

The Board will provide any reasonably segregable portion of a record that is requested after deleting the portions that are exempt from disclosure. Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552 (b), the following records of the Board are exempt from disclosure:

(1) National defense. Any information that is specifically authorized under criteria established by an executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and is in fact properly classified pursuant to the executive order. The Board does not have original classification authority; however, there may be instances in which Board records contain classified information that would be withheld.

(2) Internal personnel rules and practices. Any information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the Board. This exemption may also be used to withhold internal policies (e.g., security procedures) whose disclosure might lead to circumvention of those policies.

(3) Statutory exemption. Any information specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than 5 USC 552b), if the statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes grand jury materials and currency transaction and suspicious activity reports.

(4) Trade secrets; commercial or financial information. Any matter that is a trade secret or that constitutes commercial or financial information obtained from a person and that is privileged or confidential. In the context of requests for applications and application-related materials, the exempt information often includes business plans, pro forma financial information, nonpublic portions of transactional agreements, and descriptions of due diligence procedures and findings. Other information, such as copies of individual loan files obtained during an examination, and voluntarily submitted proprietary information, may fall within the scope of this exemption.

(5) Inter- or intra-agency memorandums. Information contained in inter- or intra-agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party (other than an agency) in litigation with an agency. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes staff analyses and recommendations and inter-agency or intra-agency communications on proposals.

(6) Personnel and medical files. Any information contained in personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes the names and/or personal addresses of shareholders holding less than 10 percent of the shares of a bank or bank holding company, completed interagency biographical and financial reports, and nonpublic portions of employment or non-competition agreements.

(7) Information compiled for law enforcement purposes. Any records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution that furnished information on a confidential basis, (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes investigatory records related to pending or potential enforcement actions (7(b)(A)); details on individuals who are targets of or witnesses to pending or completed investigations (7(b)(C)); and materials reflecting the Board's procedures for conducting investigations (7)(b)(E)).

(8) Examination, inspection, operating, or condition reports, and confidential supervisory information. Any matter that is contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions, including a state financial institution supervisory agency. Information the Board has withheld under this exemption includes examination reports, examination-related correspondence, examiners' work-papers, and audit plans.

(9) Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps concerning wells. The Board does not receive or maintain this type of information and has not invoked this exemption.

Well technically they could argue that Bear Stearns was a matter of national security or that if they reveal where that $2 trillion went it might become one when we have a list of names and our flaming pitchforks ready to storm the marble temple. Just sayin.

The Fed isn't stupid. This ain't their first rodeo and it's going to take a lot more than an FOIA to crack that particular mystery. Cute though.

Once again, this is a feature, not a bug. Don't get it confused.

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


JDA, you are doing your darndest to out the fact that a coup has taken place and our overlords are in 12 highly secured offices around the country. Why don't you pipe down so that congress can focus on what they want to focus on: counting their lobby returns and determining which day is National Minority Cookware day. That's pretty much all they are good for now.

We've lost the battle, nothing to see here, move along.

NL, you're right, I should give up and go get fat on a Midwestern farm somewhere, I could easily get knocked up by the first Jim Bob I find in the cornfield and live out my days churning butter and watching American Idol.

Fuck that. There's a reason I've got their balls in my hand and if they want to keep playing around, then I guess I've just got to twist harder.