On August 17, 2007, the Fed’s Board of Governors announced a key change to primary credit lending terms, whereby the discount rate was cut by 50 bp — to 5.75% from 6.25% — and the term of loans was extended from overnight to up to thirty days. This reduced the spread of the primary credit rate over the fed funds rate from 100 basis points to 50 basis points. News of the emergency measure was supposed to be kept secret from market participants as it was substantially market moving. It wasn’t. And just when we thought our opinion of the outgoing Treasury Secretary and former NY Fed head Tim Geithner, whose TurboTax incompetence is now legendary, couldn’t get lower, it got lower. Much lower.
From the August 16, 2007 transcript (page 13 of 37) of the conference call preceding this announcement.
MR. LACKER. If I could just follow up on that, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Yes, go ahead.
MR. LACKER. Vice Chairman Geithner, did you say that [the banks] are unaware of what we’re considering or what we might be doing with the discount rate?
VICE CHAIRMAN GEITHNER. Yes.
MR. LACKER. Vice Chairman Geithner, I spoke with Ken Lewis, President and CEO of Bank of America, this afternoon, and he said that he appreciated what Tim Geithner was arranging by way of changes in the discount facility. So my information is different from that.
CHAIRMAN BERNANKE. Okay. Thank you. Go ahead, Vice Chairman Geithner.
VICE CHAIRMAN GEITHNER. Well, I cannot speak for Ken Lewis, but I think they have sought to see whether they could understand a little more clearly the scope of their rights and our current policy with respect to the window. The only thing I’ve done is to try to help them understand—and I’m sure that’s been true across the System—what the scope of that is because these people generally don’t use the window and they don’t really understand in some sense what it’s about.
At least we now know who the bankers’ mole on the FOMC was before, as gratitude for his services, he was promoted to Treasury Secretary of the US. Because if he leaked one, he leaked them all.