$3.39T Quantitative Explosion: Fed Owns More Treasuries and MBS Than Publicly Held Debt Amassed From Washington Through Clinton

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben BernankeThe same day that the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee announced last week that the Fed would continue to buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $45 billion in U.S. Treasury securities per month, the Fed also released its latest weekly accounting sheet indicating that it had already accumulated more Treasuries and MBS than the total value of the publicly held U.S. government debt amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington though Bill Clinton.

Since the beginning of September 2008, in fact, the Fed’s ownership of Treasury securities and MBS has increased seven fold.

As of the close of business Thursday, the Fed said, it owned approximately $2,052,055,000,000 in U.S. Treasury securities and approximately $1,339,771,000,000 in mortgage-backed securities—for a combined total of about $3,391,826,000,000 in Treasury securities and MBS.

Thus the Federal Reserve now owns more debt in the form of U.S. Treasury securities and MBS than the publicly held debt the U.S. government accumulated from George Washington’s administration into November 2001, during President George W. Bush’s first term.

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