I've seen this all over the internet, but it never got picked up by larger news websites. There is an article on business insider but I'm rather unsure about the reliability of that site.

Basically the federal reserved is supposed to have issued 16 trillion dollars in loans all over the world to "support" the failing 2008-2009 economy. Is there any solid proof of that ever happening? If so, why wasn't it picked up by any serious news agency?

  • I don't have an answer but I notice the third commenter on that page offers an alternative interpretation which should be looked into.
    – Oddthinking
    Oct 8, 2011 at 8:36
  • 1
    why am i getting downvoted?
    – Eric
    Oct 8, 2011 at 22:58
  • fobes has reported on this too Oct 15, 2015 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


This looks like selective statistics. The GAO report can be read by anyone.

The $16 trillion can be found in Table 8 (page 131 of report, 144 of pdf). This falls to $1.1 trillion in Table 9 (page 132/3 of report, 145/6 of pdf) if you adjust for term length (e.g. borrowing $1 twelve times for a month is treated the same as borrowing $1 for a year rather than as borrowing $12).

Those two tables are only part of the story. A better table is the summary (page 4 of the pdf) which covers more types of transactions and their peak amounts but is still way below $16 trillion.

That too is only part of the story: for example FRB-NY agreed to lend to Citigroup against losses between $56.2 billion and $300 billion, but in the event never did. How would this potential liability that was never called be treated? In the end you need to read the report.

  • you need to look at 3 things: 1) money handed out, money standing out (so handed out but not (yet) repaid), and money reserved but not yet handed out. If the Fed issued $16bln, it's of course possible that "only" $1.1bln of that is still outstanding, the rest having been repaid (or cancelled because of insolvency or being booked against other assets).
    – jwenting
    Oct 8, 2011 at 15:50
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    In fact, having the cash you inject in the system re-used as much as possible, is exactly what the government would be trying to do--maximise the impact and minimise the injection of actual cash.
    – Sklivvz
    Oct 8, 2011 at 22:01

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