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The Federal Reserve's balance sheet and earnings: a primer and projections

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Abstract

Over the past few years, the Federal Reserve's use of unconventional monetary policy tools has led it to hold a large portfolio of securities. The asset purchases are intended to put downward pressure on longer-term interest rates, but also affect the Federal Reserve's balance sheet and income. We present a framework for projecting Federal Reserve assets and liabilities and income through time. The projections are based on public economic forecasts and announced Federal Open Market Committee policy principles. The projections imply that for the next several years, the Federal Reserve's balance sheet remains large by historical standards, and earnings remain high. Using the FOMC's stated exit strategy principles and the Blue Chip financial forecasts of the federal funds rate, the projections have the Federal Reserve's portfolio beginning to contract in 2015, returning to a more normal size in 2018 or 2019, and returning to a more normal composition a year thereafter. The projections imply that Federal Reserve remittances to the Treasury may decline for a time, and in some cases fall to zero. Once the portfolio is normalized, earnings are projected to return to their long-run trend. On net over the entire period of unconventional monetary policy actions, cumulative earnings are higher than what they might have been without the Federal Reserve asset purchase programs. To illustrate the interest rate sensitivity of the portfolio, we consider scenarios where interest rates are 100 basis points higher or lower than in the baseline. With higher interest rates, earnings tend to fall a bit more and remittances to the Treasury stop for a longer period than in our baseline projections, while with lower interest rates earnings are a bit larger and remittances continue throughout the projection period. .

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  • Alexander H. Boote & Seth B. Carpenter & Jane E. Ihrig & Elizabeth C. Klee & Daniel W. Quinn, 2013. "The Federal Reserve's balance sheet and earnings: a primer and projections," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2013-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2013-01
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    1. Canlin Li & Min Wei, 2013. "Term Structure Modeling with Supply Factors and the Federal Reserve's Large-Scale Asset Purchase Progarms," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 9(1), pages 3-39, March.
    2. Arvind Krishnamurthy & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2011. "The Effects of Quantitative Easing on Interest Rates: Channels and Implications for Policy," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 42(2 (Fall)), pages 215-287.
    3. Canlin Li & Min Wei, 2012. "Term structure modelling with supply factors and the Federal Reserve's Large Scale Asset Purchase programs," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-37, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E47 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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