If you thought that the Bank of England's misguided rescue of Northern rock marked the end of the subprime crisis for the UK banking sector, think again. Today, the Telegraph carried a story suggesting that Barclays and RBS have negotiated a £15 billion line of credit from the US Federal Reserve. Ironically, this credit line is about the same size as the amount of cash that the Bank of England have poured into the forlorn and failing Northern Rock.
There is a horrible sense of deja vu with this story. Will Barclays and RBS follow the same rocky road downwards that Northern Rock recently explored?
Barclays and RBS line up Fed for Barclays and RBS line up Fed for £15bn
Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have lined up emergency funds of up to $30bn (£15bn) from the US Federal Reserve to bail out American clients caught up in the global credit crunch. The Fed's board of governors wrote to both banks 10 days ago, granting them access to funds for customers "in need of short-term liquidity".
The letter to RBS made particular reference to investors holding mortgage-backed securities – which have been at the centre of the sub-prime crisis. The request from the two banks is a stark reminder that the global liquidity freeze is far from over. It is similar to those offered to Citigroup, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Deutsche Bank at the height of the credit crunch.
It is understood that neither Barclays nor RBS has had cause to use the Fed funding line yet. The credit line has been set up as a contingency, and may not need to be used at all, banking sources stressed last night.
Barclays has been given permission to borrow up to $20bn through the facility, while RBS can borrow up to $10bn. The banks would have to put up assets as collateral with the Fed to gain access to the cash. A spokesman for Barclays Capital said: "This secures another potential source of funding should our US clients seek it."