Recent news stories have shown that the U.S. is increasingly in the business of providing loans and bailout money to foreign banks. A.I.G. recently revealed a list of the counterparties to their bailout, which included many foreign banks. The Federal Reserve has also loaned billions of dollars to the central banks of many foreign nations including the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, and Banco Central do Brasil.
The loans to foreign central banks do raise a political issue: who is chosen for participation in the program and what efforts are they exerting to obtain the loans? When the participating countries file their next Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) disclosures–lobbyist disclosures for foreign nations–we should be able to see if they have been lobbying for Federal Reserve bank loans.
Unlike lobbyist disclosures under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, FARA disclosures require a much greater amount of detail. This allows us to have a greater view of what foreign nations are lobbying for during the economic crisis. Conversely, we have less information about what American banks are lobbying for or against, which is a real disappointment considering their lobbying, along with other financial services and mortgage groups, helped create the economic mess we find ourselves in now. Perhaps we should demand better disclosure from our lobbyists.