UPDATE: Bloomberg's point-by-point response to Bernanke's response defends Bloomberg's reporting and depicts the Fed's criticisms as highly selective. Read it here.

EARLIER: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has filed a response to last week's Bloomberg LP article estimating the Fed's maximum lending, spending and committments during the 2008 bank rescue at $7.7 trillion, far more than reported at the time. It's a bit oblique, because Bernanke didn't complain straight to Bloomberg reporter Bob Ivry and his colleagues, but to the heads of key committees in Congress. Indeed Bernanke never actually mentions the Bloomberg story, just excerpts it. 

The max the Fed actually lent was just $1.5 trillion, Bernanke complains, adding that there are other "serious errors." (Bloomberg notes, correctly, that it was talking about more than loans) Read Bernanke's complaints here. Excerpts:

"Congress was well informed of the volume of borrowing by large banks... All of these estimates (of trillions of dollars in Fed credits) are wildly inaccurate. As disclosed on the Federal Reserve's balance sheet.... total credit outstanding under the liquidity program was never more than about $1.5 trillion," at the peak in December 2008.

"To be sure that is a very large amount, but it was a necessary response" to prevent another Great Depression-style "collapse of the financial system," and keep credit flowing, Bernanke added.

"Lending and it is misleading" to add repeated loans that may have been "refinanced" at different rates, he added, comparing what some banks did to a borrower who kept refinancing a mortgage. (Though, in fact, repeated mortgages can flag borrowers in serious trouble.) Bernanke also accused unnamed reporters of confusing lines of credit with actual loans. 

"Nearly all of the emergency assistance has, in fact, been fully repaid," a fact the article "did not stress," Bernanke complained. "Federal Reserve lending should in no way be compared with government spending." He also rejects the estimate of $13 billion for bank savings from low-rate Fed loans. Most Fed lending was "priced at a penalty over normal market rates," Bernanke wrote.