It's a bad time to be a central banker. The Federal Reserve faces heat from the left for printing too little money, while members of the right float treason accusations for the printing of too much money. Meanwhile in Europe, the ECB stands charged of dithering on Greece's debt crisis and allowing a contagion of declining confidence to spread all the way to French and German banks.
For perspective, it's worth remembering that in the darkest days of the Great Recession, the U.S. central bank had perhaps its finest hour. By increasing its balance sheet to more than 25 times its previous record, the Federal Reserve was the first and last resort for liquidity for national and international banks when the mortgage crisis all but shut down private lending.
Bloomberg reporters Bradley Keoun and Phil Kuntz catalog the Fed's $1.2 trillion in "secret loans" to banks, including Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs. Morgan Stanley accepted as much as $107 billion, with Citigroup and Bank of America taking more than $90 billion each in public money to finance their operations amid the private lending freeze. A beautiful interactive chart provided by Bloomberg lets you watch the bank's loans pile up in the nadir of the credit crunch, September 2008, and wind down through 2009.