The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has recently released transcripts from its meetings during the 2008 crisis. In these transcripts, it is revealed that the Fed was lending dollars to foreign central banks (ECB, BoJ etc), who in turn were lending those dollars to their domestic institutions. In essence, the Fed was acting as a lender of last resort by providing dollar liquidity to these central banks. In this op-ed, Harold James argues that the Fed's actions have left the IMF marginalised - it is no longer the international lender of last resort (click here for an article on the IMF's role as an ILLR).
As an undergraduate, I was taught about the failure of Herstatt Bank in 1974 and Herstatt risk. This bank was only the 35th largest bank in Germany at the time so why would anyone be interested in studying its failure? Herstatt failed because of its involvement in risky foreign exchange business. When it closed its doors on 26 June 1974, counterparty banks (mainly in New York) had not received dollars due to them because of time-zone differences - this is known as settlement risk. The cross-jurisdictional implications of its failure resulted in the Bank for International Settlements setting up the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and Herstatt's failure was a key reason for the establishment of real-time gross settlements systems, which ensures that payments between two banks are executed in real time. The Bank of England's Ben Norman has an interesting post on Herstatt over at the Bank's new blog ( Bank Underground ). As well as giving an excellent overview of