Fed Remits Only $92 Billion To Treasury In 2016, Lowest Since 2013
The world was reminded of the cozy relationship between The Fed and The Treasury again today as Janet sent Jack $92.0 billion of freshly ponzi'd net income for 2016 providing the federal government with an important source of funding. This, however, is down almost 6% from 2015 and despite a considerably larger balance sheet is the lowest remittance since 2013 due to doubling the handouts to the major banks to $12 billion last year.
As Reuters reports, part of the decline is due to a drop of about $2.6 billion in what the Fed earns on its holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities accumulated in fighting the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis.
But most of it is a result of the interest paid on excess reserves held by commercial banks at the 12 regional Federal Reserve institutions. Banks are required to hold some reserves, but are allowed to deposit more if they choose.
Between more cautious lending and weak economic growth, total reserves have been at historically high levels since the financial crisis -- roughly $2 trillion as of the end of the last year compared with a few billions of dollars in more typical times.
When the Fed increased its target interest rate in Dec. 2015 by a quarter of a percentage point, to a range of between 0.25 and 0.5, it increased the rate paid to banks as well - and pushed its overall reserve interest costs from $6.9 billion in 2015 to $12 billion last year.
The increase may draw attention from lawmakers who have been critical of the Fed paying money to large commercial institutions. The central bank argues that the payments are its most effective way to push rates higher: by offering interest on excess reserves, the Fed forces banks to raise the rate at which they are willing to lend to each other.
In the last 15 years, The Fed has handed over $880 billion to The Treasury...
As is clear in the chart above, a decade ago, back when the Fed was a smaller size, Fed remittances were fairly steady, in the neighborhood of $20 billion a year. This all changed after 2008 as the Fed’s Quantitative Easing programs increased the amount of interest-earning assets that would generate funds to transfer back to the Treasury.