David Dayen writes a daily report on COVID-19 for The American Prospect.

Today’s post is very disturbing, and it has so many links included that you will have to open the post to read the source of his data and assertions. Bear in mind that the Fed is giving away OUR money, not theirs and certainly not Trump’s.

Who is getting it? That’s a secret.

Dayen writes:

Yesterday we found out that two luxury hotel companies made off with $46 million in PPP forgivable small business loans, for such high-end brand locations as Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Sofitel. The companies paid a combined $13 million to top executives last year. We know this because Braemar Hotels and Ashford Hospitalty Trust were required to disclose the loans in SEC filings.

Disclosure, in other words, brought these distortions in PPP lending to light. But those are relatively small sums compared to what the Federal Reserve’s money cannon is about to shoot out. And if the Fed gets its way, there won’t be any way to discover hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars put into the hands of companies.

The Fed has not committed to releasing detailed, transaction-level information about its lending. It has interpreted the CARES Act disclosure requirements to mean that they only need to give aggregate disclosure of the terms and rules of the various lending facilities they set up, not the names of the individual companies getting the loans. And then every 30 days, they have to supply the total amount lent out and the interest received.

This is being driven by the business community, which doesn’t want “bailout stigma” after receiving support from the Fed. I’m not sure why they think it won’t arouse suspicions if a travel company or some other large firm suddenly starts expanding out of nowhere after months without revenue.

The airline bailout in the CARES Act had very different disclosure rules: the Treasury Secretary had to post the amounts, interest rate, conditions, and even the term sheet for each recipient. But when it came to the Fed, the disclosure reverted back to the central bank’s Section 13(3) emergency lending authority. Somebody changed the rules, a mystery that ought to be unraveled. It may have come from the Fed writing the language itself, along with the CARES Act provision freeing it from open meetings laws.

Austan Goolsbee, of all people, explained pretty clearly to Politico why the Fed doesn’t want to disclose company names. “The reason they’re not releasing the list… people will start holding them accountable for who’s getting the money,” Goolsbee said. [I]t’s kind of the flashbacks of 2008 2009 that it’s going to matter for the credibility of this program and whether we the American people think it is working and want to keep engaging in it.”

Bharat Ramamurti, one of four members of the bailout oversight panel, has been among the few calling for detailed transparency around who is getting a piece of what could be as much as $4.5 trillion in loans. For all we know, some of that money has already been released, without any information about who got what. After pressure from Bharat and Americans for Financial Reform, the Fed has only committed to “information regarding participants” in the corporate credit facilities, without any details about what that information will be (will it even be the identity of the participants?), or what they will do in its numerous other lending facilities. It could mean industry-level aggregates, or a raw number of borrowers, or anything.

It’s true that, like with the hotel chains, public companies might have to file something with the SEC. But the beneficiaries of Fed lending may not all be public companies. Private equity portfolio companies could use Fed resources, for example. The press will be vital, and have already ferreted out some information. But there’s no substitute for systematic, transaction-level transparency.

There aren’t many conditions being placed on this money to begin with, to ensure it stabilizes the real economy, rather than flowing up to executives and investors. But transparency can help raise the pressure. Once you see that Company X received several billion in low-cost loans, you can tie it to what we already know about Company X: its executive compensation, use of financial engineering to reward investors, average worker pay. If conditions will ever be placed, they will happen because of the “name and shame” possibilities that accompany disclosure.

Relying on the Fed so heavily to save the economy already will shuttle the relief through large corporations and Wall Street banks. That’s how the Fed operates as an institution, and it colors our pandemic response. Operating in the dark is even worse.

We’ve already had this fight during the last bailout. The Fed claimed they were only giving banks “liquidity assistance” in the short-term to deal with a credit crunch. But this bailout will go to companies throughout the economy, with loans up to four years. Knowing this information is vital to knowing whether the taxpayer has been ripped off, on a galactic scale compared to the penny-ante small business loan schemes.

Eventually, Bloomberg sued the Fed and got some information about the 2008-2009 bailout. It may take that again. But career staff inside the Fed making the decision on what to disclose should know: they will lose credibility as an institution if they once again opt for secrecy. The public has a right to learn what’s being done in their name.

Funny, I had this antiquated idea that with public money goes public accountability. Apparently, the deal here is that our money to “save the economy” is going to unknown recipients. What, wait?