Fed Earns Record $45B
Efforts to save economy result in windfall
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2010 1:22 AM CST
The Federal Reserve earned $45 billion last year, according to Washington Post calculations based on public documents.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, file)

(Newser) – The Federal Reserve's efforts to keep the economy afloat last year earned it the highest profits in its 96-year history. The Fed—which funds itself and turns its earnings over to the Treasury—made a total of $45 billion last year, dwarfing the profits of many big banks. Interest on the Fed's $1.8 trillion in government bonds and mortgage-backed securities accounted for much of the earnings.

The profits show that the Fed has largely succeeded in shielding taxpayers from the costs of shoring up the economy, although analysts warn that the Fed's unprecedented range of actions during the financial crisis have also exposed it to more risk than ever before. "They've moved up the risk-return curve, as they have more long-term assets and more things that involve credit risk," an economist tells the Washington Post.