Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Fed Balance Sheet -- Reserve Balances Outstanding (Graph)

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke discusses the impact of the Fed Balance sheet and the task of unwinding when the economy begins to recover, or if inflation begins to rise.

It should be obvious from the chart that this will be a daunting task. I guess you could believe in miracles. My guess is that the best strategy is to get a healthy investment in stocks that will benefit from rising inflation .

Reserve Balances 403

The large volume of reserve balances outstanding must be monitored carefully, as--if not carefully managed--they could complicate the Fed's task of raising short-term interest rates when the economy begins to recover or if inflation expectations were to begin to move higher. We have a number of tools we can use to reduce bank reserves or increase short-term interest rates when that becomes necessary.
  • First, many of our lending programs extend credit primarily on a short-term basis and thus could be wound down relatively quickly. In addition, since the lending rates in these programs are typically set above the rates that prevail in normal market conditions, borrower demand for these facilities should wane as conditions improve.
  • Second, the Federal Reserve can conduct reverse repurchase agreements against its long-term securities holdings to drain bank reserves or, if necessary, it could choose to sell some of its securities. Of course, for any given level of the federal funds rate, an unwinding of lending facilities or a sale of securities would constitute a de facto tightening of policy, and so would have to be carefully considered in that light by the FOMC.
  • Third, some reserves can be soaked up by the Treasury's Supplementary Financing Program. Fourth, in October of last year, the Federal Reserve received long-sought authority to pay interest on the reserve balances of depository institutions. Raising the interest rate paid on reserves will encourage depository institutions to hold reserves with the Fed, rather than lending them into the federal funds market at a rate below the rate paid on reserves. Thus, the interest rate paid on reserves will tend to set a floor on the federal funds rate.

Read the entire speech: The Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet
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Bob DeMarco is a citizen journalist and twenty year Wall Street veteran. Bob has written more than 500 articles with more than 11,000 links to his work on the Internet. Content from All American Investor has been syndicated on Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Pluck, Blog Critics, and a growing list of newspaper websites. Bob is actively seeking syndication and writing assignments.

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