Karen Petrou: Fed Financial Losses and Big-Bank Political risk

2022-10-17T15:39:27-04:00October 17th, 2022|The Vault|

Congress will do nothing about anything until the midterm election seals each Member’s fate.  Thus, I expect nothing to come from Congress in 2022 responding to the Fed’s sudden turn for the financial worst.  However, when Congress again comes to thinking about the Fed, it will not go unnoticed despite all the acrimony about monetary-policy miscues that taxpayers are in some ways now far more clearly subsidizing payments to banks, MMFs, and other financial companies holding deposits with the central bank or using its standing market windows.  The last time Congress thought about interest rates on reserves (IRR), more than a few Members wanted it back.  Given that these payments are now at what seems direct taxpayer cost, they’ll have a lot of new friends in the next Congress unless someone quickly shows why these interest payments are an artifact of Fed confusion, not big-bank malfeasance.

Yes, I know – the $2.9 billion loss the Fed reported in terms of Treasury remittances for the first week of October isn’t a direct taxpayer subsidy any more than the hundreds of billions the Fed has sent to the Treasury since 2008 are funds directly taken from taxpayers.  The ups and downs of Fed remittances are the result of balance-sheet operations comprised of liabilities owed to financial companies and earnings on assets in the Fed’s portfolio.  Neither is direct spending nor revenue raising.  This is, though, a technicality for Members of Congress who have become used to having the Fed – and …