US banks have been quietly borrowing massive amounts of money from the Federal Reserve in recent weeks by using a new measure the Fed introduced two months ago to help ease the credit crunch. Financial Times, The Times

The use of the Fed’s Term Auction Facility, which allows banks to borrow at relatively attractive rates against a wider range of their assets than previously permitted, saw borrowing of nearly $50bn (£26bn) of one-month funds from the Fed by mid-February.

US officials say the trend shows that financial authorities have become far more adept at channelling liquidity into the banking system to alleviate financial stress, after failing to calm money markets last year.

However, the move has sparked unease among some analysts about the stress developing in opaque corners of the US banking system and the banks’ growing reliance on indirect forms of government support.