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Deborah Leonard, Antoine Martin, Simon Potter, and Brett Rose
In our previous post, we considered balance sheet mechanics related to the Federal Reserve’s purchase and redemption of Treasury securities. These mechanics are fairly straightforward and help to illustrate the basic relationships among actors in the financial system. Here, we turn to transactions involving agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which are somewhat more complicated. We focus particularly on what happens when households pay down their mortgages, either through regular monthly amortizations or a large payment covering some or all of the outstanding balance, as might occur with a refinancing.
The size of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet increased greatly between 2009 and 2014 owing to large-scale asset purchases. The balance sheet has stayed at a high level since then through the ongoing reinvestment of principal repayments on securities that the Fed holds. When the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decides to reduce the size of the Fed’s balance sheet, it is expected to do so by gradually reducing the pace of reinvestments, as outlined in the June 2017 addendum to the FOMC’s Policy Normalization Principles and Plans. How do asset purchases increase the size of the Fed’s balance sheet? And how would reducing reinvestments reduce the size of the balance sheet? In this post, we answer these questions by describing the mechanics of the Fed’s balance sheet. In our next post, we will describe the balance sheet mechanics with respect to agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS).
China lends to the rest of the world because it saves much more than it needs to fund its high level of physical investment spending. For years, the public sector accounted for this lending through the Chinese central bank’s purchase of foreign assets, but this changed in 2015. The country still had substantial net financial outflows, but unlike in previous years, more private money was pouring out of China than was flowing in. This shift in private sector behavior forced the central bank to sell foreign assets so that the sum of net private and public outflows would equal the saving surplus at prevailing exchange rates. Explanations for this turnaround by private investors include lower returns on domestic investment spending and a less optimistic outlook for China’s currency.
The 2007-09 financial crisis, and the monetary policy response to it, have greatly increased the size of central bank balance sheets around the world. These changes were not always well understood and some were controversial. We discuss these crisis-induced changes, following yesterday’s post on the composition of central bank balance sheets in normal times, and explain the policy intentions behind some of them.
There has been unusually high activity on central banks’ balance sheets in recent years. This activity, which has expanded beyond the core operations and collateral of the central bank, has been called “unconventional,” “nonstandard,” “nontraditional,” and “active.” But what constitutes a normal central bank balance sheet? How does central bank asset and liability composition vary across countries and how did the crisis change this composition? In this post, we focus on the main characteristics of central bank balance sheets before the crisis. In our next piece, we describe how this composition has changed in response to the crisis.
As we observed in our last post on the Continental Currency Crisis, the finances of the United States remained chaotic through the 1780s as the young government moved to establish its credit. U.S. Congress was finally given the power of taxation in 1787 and, in 1789, Alexander Hamilton was appointed as the first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton moved quickly to begin paying off war debts and to establish a national bank—the Bank of the United States. But in 1791, a burst of financial speculation in subscription rights to shares in the new bank caused a tangential rally and fall in public debt securities prices. In this edition of Crisis Chronicles, we describe how Hamilton invented central bank crisis management techniques eight decades before Walter Bagehot described them in Lombard Street.
Perhaps you enjoy being read to out loud. Perhaps you enjoy
being read to on subjects related to central banking. Perhaps you would enjoy
being read the Wikipedia entries for central banks around the world. If so, and
your reader was to read the following beginning sentences for central bank entries, you would hear:
The central bank of Trinidad and Tobago is the central
bank of Trinidad and Tobago . . . . The central bank of Yemen is the central bank of
Yemen . . . . The central bank of The Bahamas is the central bank of The Bahamas . . . . The
central bank of Jordan is the central bank of Jordan . . .
In 1668, Johan Palmstruch, the head of Stockholm Banco, the
precursor to the oldest central bank still operating today—the
charged and sentenced to death, according to Wikipedia and the
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is back in the classroom this month to deliver a series of four lectures for undergraduate students at the George Washington School of Business in Washington, D.C. It’s a welcome reconnection with students for Chairman Bernanke, who joined the Federal Reserve System in 2002 after a long career as an economics professor at Stanford University and later at Princeton University. The lectures at the George Washington School are part of Bernanke’s ongoing effort to educate the public about the role played by the Federal Reserve during the recent financial crisis. The nature and the scope of these lectures allow the Chairman to draw upon his background as a scholar of the Great Depression and his experience at the helm of the U.S. central bank to put the financial crisis in a broader context. The Chairman will talk about the origins and mission of central banks, identify the lessons learned from previous financial crises, and describe how those lessons informed the Fed's decisions during the recent crisis.
The euro area sovereign debt crisis sparked an outflow of bank deposits from countries in the periphery to commercial banks in Germany and other core countries. The outflow highlighted a key aspect of the payments system linking national central banks in euro area countries. In particular, net outflows from private commercial banks in a given country are matched by credits to that county’s central bank, with those credits extended by central banks elsewhere in the euro area. In this post, we explain how the credits affected the adjustment pressures faced by countries in the euro area during the ongoing debt crisis.
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