Fed a Profit Center for Taxpayers?


Congratulations to CNBC for one of the silliest economic assertions in history. Please consider this sentence from Fed steps up release of results, says first-half income up.

 Its release of first and second quarter results detailed a sharp rise to $46.447 billion in its payments to the Treasury, from $40.456 billion in the first six months of 2011, reminding U.S. taxpayers the Fed has been a significant source of income.

Fed a Significant Source of Income?

Say what? From Federal Reserve FAQs

 The Federal Reserve does not receive funding through the congressional budgetary process. The Fed’s income comes primarily from the interest on government securities that it has acquired through open market operations. Other sources of income are the interest on foreign currency investments held by the Federal Reserve System; fees received for services provided to depository institutions, such as check clearing, funds transfers, and automated clearinghouse operations; and interest on loans to depository institutions. After paying its expenses, the Federal Reserve turns the rest of its earnings over to the U.S. Treasury.

Got that? The Fed receives interest on government debt. The more it bloats its balance sheet, the more interest it receives (from the government, courtesy of US taxpayers of course). Whatever the Fed does not waste on salaries and other expenses, it returns to the US treasury.

Somehow the authors of that article managed to turn the Fed into a significant, $46 billion, profit center for the US taxpayers. Wow.

Furthermore, by suppressing interest rates, the Fed has crucified those on fixed income. Also recall that Fed fueled the housing bubble in the first place by holding interest rates too low, too long, in its open market operations.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Global Economic Analysis