The Federal Reserve asked a U.S. appeals court to delay implementing a ruling that would force the central bank to disclose details of its emergency lending programs to banks during the financial crisis.
Wednesday's emergency request for a 90-day delay came after the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 20 denied a motion by the Fed to rehear the case, which had been brought by Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, and News Corp.'s Fox News Network.
A stay would give the Fed and the Clearing House Association, a group of major U.S. and European banks, until Nov. 18 to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Fed programs were designed to shore up the financial markets, and more than doubled the central bank's balance sheet to well over $2 trillion, especially after the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings.
In March, the Second Circuit ordered the Fed to disclose information, including the names of bailout recipients and amounts received, that the news media had requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The Fed argued that allowing disclosure could stigmatize banks, causing a loss of confidence that could lead to deposit runs, bank failures and damage to the economy.
In its Wednesday filing, the Fed said denial of a stay would "force the government to let the cat out of the bag, without any effective way of recapturing it" if the Second Circuit ruling were later reversed.
"The public policy interest identified by the government will be irreversibly lost," it added.
Fed spokesman David Skidmore said "the stay is necessary to permit the board to consult with the Department of Justice regarding an appeal to the Supreme Court."
The cases are Bloomberg LP v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System et al, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Nos. 09-4083, 09-4097.
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