Unexpectedly Intriguing!
August 21, 2019

How big is the U.S. Federal Reserve's balance sheet? What kind of assets does it hold? What is the value of those assets?

Three questions, the answers for which we've presented in the following two interactive charts! In the first chart below, we show the value of the major asset categories the U.S. Federal Reserve has held on its balance sheet in each week from 18 December 2002 through 14 August 2019, which provides the data needed to answer all three questions. [If you're accessing this article that republishes our RSS news feed, you might consider clicking through to our site to access a working version of the interactive chart, or if you prefer, you can click here for a static version.]

Our second chart presents the same data, but this time in a stacked area format, which makes it easier to find the answer to the first question of how big the Fed's balance sheet has been from 18 December 2002 through 14 August 2019. [Click here for a static version of this second chart.]

Starting at 18 December 2002, the Fed's balance sheet consisted mainly of U.S. Treasuries, which grew from $629 billion at that time to roughly $800 billion in late 2007. The onset of the Great Recession saw the Fed's balance sheet crash to a level of roughly $450 billion by mid-2008, after which the size of the Fed's balance sheet inflated in three major phases through its quantitative easing monetary policy, in which it sought to prop up government supported agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by buying bonds these entities issued to support their operations (Federal Agency Debt), while also buying up the Mortgage Backed Securities these institutions issued to prop up the U.S. housing market. At the same time, the Fed also funded the U.S. government's deficit spending by buying copious amounts of U.S. Treasuries.

By January 2015, the combined amount of all these assets averaged roughly $4.25 trillion, which the Fed held stable at this level until late 2017, when the Fed began actively reducing the amount of its balance sheet holdings through its quantitative tightening monetary policy. Through 14 August 2019, the combined total of these three major asset categories fell to $3.6 trillion, $625 billion less than the average level it held from 2015 through most of 2017.

If we use Morgan Stanley's estimate that each $200 billion reduction in the Fed's balance sheet has the equivalent effect of a 0.25% hike in the Federal Funds Rate, the Fed's active balance sheet reduction quantitative tightening program since late 2017 has had the equivalent effect of increasing the Federal Funds Rate by an additional 0.8% over its official target range of 2.25-2.50% through the end of July 2019.

On 31 July 2019, the Fed acted to cut its target range for the Federal Funds Rate by a quarter percentage point and to suspend its balance sheet reduction program, effective 1 August 2019.

References

U.S. Federal Reserve. U.S. Treasury Securities Held by the Federal Reserve: All Maturities. [Online Database]. Accessed 17 August 2019.

U.S. Federal Reserve. Federal Agency Debt Securities Held by the Federal Reserve: All Maturities. [Online Database]. Accessed 17 August 2019.

U.S. Federal Reserve. Assets: Securities Held Outright: Mortgage-Backed Securities. [Online Database]. Accessed 17 August 2019.

Labels: ,

About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Thanks in advance!

Recent Posts

Stock Charts and News

Most Popular Posts
Quick Index

Site Data

This site is primarily powered by:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

CSS Validation

Valid CSS!

RSS Site Feed

AddThis Feed Button

JavaScript

The tools on this site are built using JavaScript. If you would like to learn more, one of the best free resources on the web is available at W3Schools.com.

Other Cool Resources

Blog Roll

Market Links

Useful Election Data
Charities We Support
Recommended Reading
Recently Shopped

Seeking Alpha Certified

Archives
Legal Disclaimer

Materials on this website are published by Political Calculations to provide visitors with free information and insights regarding the incentives created by the laws and policies described. However, this website is not designed for the purpose of providing legal, medical or financial advice to individuals. Visitors should not rely upon information on this website as a substitute for personal legal, medical or financial advice. While we make every effort to provide accurate website information, laws can change and inaccuracies happen despite our best efforts. If you have an individual problem, you should seek advice from a licensed professional in your state, i.e., by a competent authority with specialized knowledge who can apply it to the particular circumstances of your case.