Uncle Ben is trying to help out Uncle Sam. On Tuesday, Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve announced that it has handed over $76.9 billion to Timothy Geithner’s Treasury Department. The amount represents the Federal Reserve Banks’ 2011 income, minus costs.
A Fed statement says the amount “was derived primarily from $83.6 billion in interest income on securities acquired through open market operations (U.S. Treasury securities, federal agency and government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) mortgage-backed securities, and GSE debt securities).”
While that’s a hefty chunk of change, it’s slightly less than the Fed’s 2010 net profits of $79.3 billion, which went to the Treasury last year. Still, as The New York Times points out, this year’s payout is far above average: “The Fed made an average annual contribution to the Treasury Department of $23 billion during the five years preceding the financial crisis. In the five years since 2007, the Fed’s average contribution more than doubled to $54 billion.”
So, the Fed’s various quantitative easing programs have proven a boon to the Treasury, at least. And indirectly, to American taxpayers who’ll be footing a slightly smaller interest charge on the nation’s ballooning debt.