Disbelief and Shock at the N.Y. Fed, but All Operations, Kept Working. (THE NEW YORK EXPERIENCE)

By Cocheo, Steve | ABA Banking Journal, October 2001 | Go to article overview

Disbelief and Shock at the N.Y. Fed, but All Operations, Kept Working. (THE NEW YORK EXPERIENCE)


Cocheo, Steve, ABA Banking Journal


At 8:48 a.m. on Sept. 11, when Los Angeles-bound American Airlines flight 11 from Boston struck the World Trade Center's North Tower, Steve Malin was in an elevator at the New York Federal Reserve Bank at 33 Liberty St., two blocks away. He heard the noise of the impact and rushed back to his department to find out what happened.

From the office windows, his department could see people in the streets of the financial district running for their lives. Malin's secretary arrived, with debris in her hair and on her clothing. Her bus had made its stop near the trade center sometime during the course of the swiftly unfolding events.

Someone turned on CNN and that was when Malin' department learned what had happened.

A co-worker instantly voiced his own suspicions: "Terrorists!"

Malin, a Fed spokesman, says he scoffed at first, even though he had been at the Fed when the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993. But 15 minutes later, his co-worker gave him an "I told you so look when the second 767 struck the trade center's south tower.

Time passed quickly. Malin and his co-workers were transfixed by the awful spectacle unfolding on-screen and from the view of it they had from their windows, when, at 9:59, the south tower, the second one hit, collapsed.

"There was an incredible gust of wind," says Malin, and debris and tons of papers began falling in the area. The windows, he says, went black as the dust clouds and smoke of the collapse enveloped the financial district. It took more than an hour for things to clear.

One blessing: All N.Y. Fed employees could be accounted for.

On the 11th, with classic Fed restraint, the Fed Board of Governors put a simple notice on its website: "The Federal Reserve System is open and operating. The discount window is available to meet liquidity needs." The New York Fed posted a similar notice on the 11th, followed the next day with this notice: "The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is open. The Funds and Securities wires are operational The FRBNY is settling trades today."

FDIC, likewise, immediately sought to calm any jitters: "The public can rest assured that deposit insurance is in full force-money is safe in an FDICinsured account."

[In days that followed other banking regulators and the Department of Housing and Urban Development urged lenders to work with borrowers affected by the attacks.]

New York State Banking Superintendent Elizabeth McCaul was stranded in Japan when US. skies were closed to civilian air traffic and her agency's downstate office, near the trade center, was closed for safety's sake. …

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