Good evening, jellyfish here! I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful rest of the evening and an awesome start of the weekend. I want to take a minute to discuss a graph I am sure is going to catch some folks attention:
For starters, the Fed is playing slight of hand here.
Storing losses on the balance sheet as an asset like what is happening above, rather than showing the loss on the income statement right away, is an old corporate accounting trick.
The Fed explains this in footnote:
“Positive amounts [from January to early September] represent the estimated weekly remittances due to U.S. Treasury.”
“Negative amounts [since early September] represent the cumulative deferred asset position, which is incurred during a period when earnings are not sufficient to provide for the cost of operations, payment of dividends, and maintaining surplus.“
"The deferred asset is the amount of net earnings that the Federal Reserve Banks need to realize before remittances to the U.S. Treasury resume.”
In other words, each week going forward, the linked chart will show the Fed’s total losses starting from September 2022. The bigger the negative number, the bigger the accumulated loss.
So, 'wut mean'? This number will get bigger to indicate the amount of money the Fed owes the treasury-- -$26,959 million and counting. The Fed gets to just sit on this negative balance and when it starts making money for treasury again (from money it makes on interest and fees, lowering its operating expenses, paying less on dividends), will see that negative number start to shrink (in theory).
REMEMBER: These losses do not matter to the Fed. The Fed creates its own money, and cannot become insolvent.
During 2022, Reserve Banks transferred $76.0 billion from weekly earnings to the U.S. Treasury, and, in September 2022, most Reserve Banks suspended weekly remittances to the Treasury and started accumulating a deferred asset, which totaled $18.8 billion by the end of the year.
Again, a deferred asset has no implications for the Federal Reserve's conduct of monetary policy or its ability to meet its financial obligations.
However, what this will mean for Treasury I am not sure--with the current debt ceiling nonsense seeing Yellen taking extraordinary measures to keep everything afloat through June. You can bet they wish the Fed was sending those weekly earnings while having to navigate this environment.