Bailout Update: Fed Balance Sheet Reaches $2 Trillion

The U.S. Federal Reserve‘s balance sheet expanded to a record high this week, after continued efforts to shore up the financial system through large cash infusions helped push $2.058 trillion onto the Fed’s book through Nov. 5, compared to the $1.953 trillion on the Fed’s books one week earlier. The data came from an update on reserve balances on Thursday afternoon. See the data. Banks’ discount window borrowings from the Fed eased slightly, and overall borrowings from the central bank averaged $359 billion per day in the week ending Nov. 5, down from $388.81 per day in the previous week, according to the Fed’s report. The Fed poured another $100 billion into the frozen credit system through a short-term funding program last week. Federal lending through the Commercial Paper Funding Facility, which opened on Oct. 20, increased to $243 billion from $144 billion the previous week. The commercial paper facility — along with lowered interest rates and capital injections given to banks — is just another leg of the rescue vehicle put in place by the Fed during the past few months. And although the wheels are turning, the vehicle doesn’t seem to be going anywhere consistently just yet. “The Fed is tapping all the keys on the keyboard, and it does seem to be helping,” Morningstar Inc. analyst Bill Bergman told CNNMoney. “We have a financial market problem of historic proportion, and I think the Fed’s ability to liquefy is worth respect.” Elsewhere on Capitol Hill While the Fed’s efforts — however well-intentioned — are having some limited effect, policy makers might begin forging ahead before President-elect Barack Obama even takes office, other media reports have suggested in recent days. Leading Democrats are beginning to push for swift action on an economic stimulus act, which may include $100 billion in immediate spending and new middle-class tax cuts, according to a report by the Washington Post. Obama scheduled on Friday to meet with close advisors and hold his first news conference since Tuesday’s election, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. met with various executives of the auto-making industry, who have also requested swift government aid to keep the industry from failing, the Washington Post reported. Obama will visit the White House Monday to meet with President George W. Bush, who has not yet appeared favorable to the development of a stimulus package being circulated among Democrats. “We’ve long said that the package they have put forward so far was not something we thought that we could support,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Thursday, according to the Washington Post. If Bush happens to change this stance and agrees to consider it, a spending package could be ready for review as early as this month; the package could include funding for public works projects to create jobs, an extension of unemployment benefits, increased funding for food stamps and other aid for rising costs of health care. Democrats also said Thursday a separate stimulus package — in the works for after Obama takes office — could top $100 billion and include instant moderate- and low-income tax relief. Further details of the package are still unclear, according to the Washington Post. Write to Diana Golobay at

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