Fed's massive data release offers insight into financial crisis

The Federal Reserve released detailed information Wednesday about the actions it took to help the economy during the financial crisis. 

The data showed the Fed undertook more than 21,000 transactions to stabilize markets during the crisis that began in 2008, and is sure to raise additional questions from Congress about the lack of transparency in the Fed's actions. 

The large disclosure, mandated as part of the financial overhaul legislation approved last year by Congress, shines additional light on the dramatic steps the Fed took to assist other institutions during the crisis. The Fed noted in its announcement of the data dump that most of these transactions have since closed as the crisis abated, and that it expects to incur no credit losses on wound-down and still active deals.

"These facilities were open to participants that met clearly outlined eligibility criteria; participation in them reflected the severe market disruptions during the financial crisis and generally did not reflect participants' financial weakness," the Fed stated.

Several of the transactions consisted of short-term loans made to financial institutions to help preserve liquidity in panicked markets and purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities to boost the ailing housing market. The Fed also a number of large U.S. companies that found themselves in trouble.

The data also reveals that foreign central banks tapped the Fed for dollar liquidity swap lines to stabilize dollar-based markets abroad.

To combat the financial crisis, the Fed established an arsenal of facilities and programs, such as the Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Mutual Fund Liquidity Facility.