The Profitable Federal Reserve?

Posted: Jan 11, 2015 12:17 PM
The Federal Reserve's activities aren't limited to quantitative easing and interest rates. The quasi-bank has other economic activities - and sometimes it turns a profit.

As the Associated Press reports:

The Federal Reserve announced Friday that it paid the federal government a record $98.7 billion in 2014, a payment that reflects the central bank's earnings from holdings of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities purchased to keep long-term interest rates low to boost the economy.

The 2014 payment is up 24 percent from a 2013 payment of $79.6 billion and is higher than the previous record of $88.4 billion paid in 2012.

The Fed is funded from interest earned on its portfolio of securities. After covering its expenses, the Fed pays the remaining amount to the Treasury Department. Those payments have surged in recent years, reflecting three rounds of bond purchases the Fed made to lower interest rates and boost economic growth following the Great Recession.

Fed payments averaged $28.4 billion in the three years before 2008, but since then the Fed's bond purchases have increased its balance sheet to nearly $4.5 trillion, a four-fold increase since the financial crisis hit.

As David Dayen reported for The Daily Beast last year, the Fed earns double the profit of some of America's most high-profile private companies.