Who Really Benefits From More Fed Easing?
Well the government and the banks, of course.
Rather than going to households and small businesses that need credit, though, that money instead is going to the biggest borrower of all — the U.S. Treasury Department.
U.S. banks now own more than $1.5 trillion in Treasuries and taxpayer-backed debt issued by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to the latest weekly data provided by the Fed. It's a 30 percent increase from the week prior to the Fed's Dec. 16, 2008, announcement that it was lowering the main interest rate to 0-0.25 percent.
Outstanding commercial and industrial loans at U.S. banks have fallen from $1.6 trillion in October 2008 to $1.2 trillion this past September, Fed data show. The $390 billion drop is equivalent to a 24 percent reduction in credit to businesses.
For families, it seems that it's never been harder to get a line of credit. For banks, they book an easy profit by borrowing at near-zero cost and lending it back to Uncle Sam.
Nice work, if you can get it.