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Guest Post: Charting The Federal Reserve's Assets - 1915-2012

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Thomas Gresham of Gresham's Law,

Here we present a history of the Fed in charts. As you’ll surely glean from the below — the Fed has degenerated from a by and large passive institution (dealing only in high-quality self-liquidating commercial paper and gold) to an active pursuant of junk, an enabler of wars, a ‘benevolent’ combatant of the depressions of its own creation, a central planner of employment & prices and of course a forgiving friend to inconvenient market follies.

The Fed's Assets from 1915 to 2012:

1915 to 1925

1925 to 1935

1935 to 1945

1945 to 1955

1955 to 1965

1965 to 1975

1975 to 1985

1985 to 1995

1995 to 2005

2005 to 2012


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Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:38 | 2152459 Stevious
Stevious's picture

Awww...come on.... It's going to take at least a year or three for the US dollar to be destroyed... you're just being too pessimistic!

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 21:41 | 2152220 flyonmywall
Sun, 02/12/2012 - 21:46 | 2152231 dbTX
dbTX's picture

Jefferson was way ahead of his time.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 21:55 | 2152256 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

That's why the Fed 'mocked' him by putting him on the $2 bill

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:07 | 2152274 JohnG
JohnG's picture

Well, at least the $2 is an actual red seal Treasury bill, not an FRN debt instrument.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:11 | 2152391 francis_sawyer
francis_sawyer's picture

you're a terrorist for knowing that

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:40 | 2152464 Stevious
Stevious's picture

It takes a terrorist to know a terrorist...the drones are comin' for you buddy!

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 08:07 | 2152907 Moe Howard
Moe Howard's picture

There are many versions. Most common today is the FRN, not the Red Seal etc.

I have some Treasury notes, some silver certificates. The modern $2 is a Federal Reserve Note. No red seal.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 21:50 | 2152239 AL_SWEARENGEN

A memorable moment From Deadwood's season 3 episode titled 'Full faith & credit'




Depositor:            I put you on notice.   Want my money, it better be fucking available, day or fucking night.  (Sol gets up)

Trixie: Mayn’t I draw you a map then in case it’s night you want it, to lead you to where I live so you can wake me?

Depositor:            Now fuck you then.  I ain’t depositing.

Trixie: Oh no?  Oh, say it ain’t fuckin’ so, you stupid fucking asshole!

Ellsworth:            Now now now now. 

Depositor:            Now now, fucking what?!

Ellsworth:            Now now, keep your voice down.

Depositor:            Who the fuck are you anyway?

Alma:   Sir—

 Ellsworth Stay out of this.  Deposits here, if we fucking let you make ‘em, are backed by this lady’s gold mine.  So do not confuse her with some  paper palace fly-by-night who means “catch me if you can, turn me upside down and whatever falls out of my pants pocket is what’s behind my scrip,” when his note says “Full faith and credit.”


Alma:   Thank you, Mr. Ellsworth.

Ellsworth:            She’d make the uses of money available for people in the camp ain’t belligerent cocksuckers.  Short of following you around with her fucking mine on her back, how else is she supposed to do it?

Alma:   Thank you.

Ellsworth:            You’re welcome.

Alma:   I am Mrs. Ellsworth.

Depositor:            Ah.  How do you do?  I guess I’ll try you out.

Trixie: Our hearts fucking leap with joy.


Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:29 | 2152316 AL_SWEARENGEN

HHAHA yes!  Good find.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 21:51 | 2152245 Ned Zeppelin
Ned Zeppelin's picture

Saw Barron's had "DOW 15,000" on the cover.

How could the economy grow enough to justify that?

Answer: it can't.  But that doesn't mean the Ponzi can't race on up.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 12:59 | 2153921 TeresaE
TeresaE's picture

Ah ye' of little faith, it can, for a little while.  Hyper-inflation is nearly always accompanied by hyper-inflating stocks and suckers thinking they are "making" money. 

Takes a while for the band to quit playing, just long enough for the sheeple to stall before realizing the party is over.

Based on history, that would be my guess.

But who knows?  All I know is it will be interesting

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:07 | 2152275 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Japan GDP contracts more even than expected. 

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:09 | 2152276 AC_Doctor
AC_Doctor's picture

Wow, the Fed levered 52:1. No fucks wonder why the Plunge Protection Team is working 24/7 to keep the Ponzi from collapsing!  All these crooks need to be on chain gangs after the People take America back from the thieving whores.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:53 | 2152354 Bansters-in-my-...
Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

Looks like that PPT you talk about got to work 5 minutes late tonight,before they could bitch slap gold back down.

Make NO mistakes....the PPT is your enemy,just like the USA Stabilization Exhange Fund Account is also.....

They rob from the working people to give to the blue bloods.

Fuck You's PPT....see ya's in Hell.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:09 | 2152277 q99x2
q99x2's picture

Doesn't look like they have any control over monetary policy but if their goal was to move money from workers to bankers and covert ops then it looks like they've done quite well.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:09 | 2152279 rosiescenario
rosiescenario's picture

Looks to me that the Vietnam war is what really got the ball rolling....then Johnson was forced to take the silver out of the currency, and presto nothing was tied to anything....and here we are today.


Thanks for thise charts, Tyler....they portray very clearly what the Fed has been doing, though it would be nice to find out what is in the cats and dogs category of "all other assets"....

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:18 | 2152283 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Yup. Vietnam was the tipping point where the US went from net creditor to debtor nation. Inflation soon followed and it was an epic struggle to control. Gold window needed to be slammed shut else Fort Knox would be empty

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:50 | 2152482 Archon7
Archon7's picture

" it would be nice to find out what is in the cats and dogs category of "all other assets"...."

chocolate-covered turds, aka "Mortgage-backed securities"

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:14 | 2152287 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture


The shape of things to come: 


Reuters: For decades, the two-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis exported sugarcane to keep its economy afloat. When sugar prices fell, St.

Kitts began to sell an even sweeter commodity: its citizenship.


 For $250,000, a foreigner can buy full rights as a citizen there. The transaction can take as few as three months and applicants need never visit the nation's sandy shores.


The allure? St. Kitts citizens can travel without a visa to more than a hundred countries, including Canada and all of Europe. They pay no personal income taxes, and the island's remote location in the West Indies serves as a safe haven, should the need for a quick move ever arise.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:41 | 2152339 Escrava Isaura
Escrava Isaura's picture

Caviar, thanks for St. Kitts and Nevis news. Any other “suggestion” for South America [tax haven]?

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:05 | 2152378 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture



Dunno any South American havens. But read this from the same article (and understand why this is a growth industry and the haves are all rushing to get 2nd and even 3rd passports...can you say capital flight?)


For nearby Dominica, the basic cost is $75,000.


A third country, Austria, may also offer citizenship for an investment . A provision in the Austrian Citizenship Act states that citizenship can be granted to an applicant if he or she has performed, or would later perform, "extraordinary services" to benefit the Austrian state.




A passport facilitator says: "Today, a person of talent and means need not limit his or her life and citizenship to only one country," reads Henley's website ( "Making an active decision with regard to your citizenship gives you more personal freedom, privacy and security."


A US billionaire's son says: "When (George W.) Bush was elected for the second time, I felt that the country was going to be in such a downward spiral," Bilzerian said. "They were eliminating freedoms, restricting the bill of rights. It's so hard to keep yourself out of trouble. If the IRS thinks you're doing something wrong and audit you, they make your life a nightmare ... they run you to the ground."

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:30 | 2152437 Escrava Isaura
Escrava Isaura's picture

I am looking into that. Heard Uruguay and Paraguay. I am working with Brasil. Let you all know what I come up with. Anyway, thanks once again Caviar. I am one of your fans..., I think you should know it!

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:35 | 2152448 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Good luck. It's an interesting move. I think you're in the right hemisphere

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:50 | 2152485 Stevious
Stevious's picture

Hardly South America but invest ~$320,000 in Thailand and it comes with a residence VISA for you and your immediate family.

That's "invest," not "pay." 

Lovely land, lovely people, money goes a long, long way... Their economy will prosper due to their proximity to China.  About the only thing I don't like about Thailand is that if you develop something that leads to a painful death, it is not the place to be.  There is an irrational fear of opiate based pain control. 

It used to be a paltry $100,000 but that ended some years back.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:52 | 2152490 Archon7
Archon7's picture

Other countries do that, too.  If you got the money, step right this way, citizen!

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 00:38 | 2152543 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Bamboo Parachute

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:13 | 2152288 Sathington Willougby
Sathington Willougby's picture


How bout them Cowboys?

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:19 | 2152297 the PTB
the PTB's picture

What are the constituent components of "all other assets"?  I would like to see that list.  Has the Fed's balance sheet assets surpassed the known/knowable value of all tangible assets?  I dare say yes.  Most, of course are notes i.e. debt promissories held by interest slaves i.e. you and me.  Thus, they own everything.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:30 | 2152319 holdbuysell
holdbuysell's picture

Fantastic, though horrific-looking, compilation. Thanks for sharing.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:31 | 2152321 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Nouriel says:  Japan joins Eurozone and the UK in experiencing a contracting GDP in Q4 of 2011. Many advanced economies double dipping

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:31 | 2152322 Global Hunter
Global Hunter's picture

It doesn't matter in what field or endeavour, charts like the first one over that period of time just don't end well.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:40 | 2152336 non_anon
non_anon's picture

WTF?! , is this, why do we allow this to continue on, from generation to generation, are we the last?

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:44 | 2152342 Bansters-in-my-...
Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

So I guess GOLD must have seen the charts,thats why it dropped $35 in 5 minutes.

Have a look at the evidence of a crime on the Kitco gold charts....

Shit like this is why people do......?

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 22:57 | 2152366 atomic180
atomic180's picture

BAGHOLDER NOT I agree the TRUE loss not FEAR VALUE will be far different maybe 10% when the fed repackages the MBS's and lowers rates below 3% re-inflates the housing allways inflation is key but it looks like the inflation is being exported to China that helps too...operation TWIST AND SHOUT...

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:03 | 2152375 XtraBullish
XtraBullish's picture

Just read "The End of Wall Street" by Roger Lowenstein written in March 2010 and after reading all of the "SubPrime Meltdown Books", I was reminded that the U.S. Government IS the U.S. financial system and vice-versa. That no one at the top is yet in jail STARTING WITH GREENSPAN, is an absolute farce. Why the torches and pitchforks are not marching on Washington as a cross-section of the entire U.S. demographic and ethnographic spectrum is beyond one's imagination. The fraud is incomprehensible. FRAUD. I'm just glad that I live outside the U.S. and am loaded with physical silver and gold along with a hefty amount of well-diversified fiat paper from Canada, Switzerland and Australia. This is NOT going to end well. (Dow 25,000 = $10/gal gasoline)

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:20 | 2152414 twotraps
twotraps's picture

XtraBullish.  Agree with you.  Trying to come up with scenarios is much harder with the degree of intervention involved, the fact they 'they are the financial system', the print the money and make the rules.  I first thought we would have forced deflation through the natural market force of people liquidating whatever they had to raise cash, the inflation you mentioned is also possible, not sure what the point is other than becoming Italy before the Euro.  Not deluded with hopes of changing the system, just not getting crushed in process with everyone else.  If its about control, how much more is required?  Feds powers have expanded quite a bit, but is it in their best interest for it to collapse or get out of hand?  Not sure what they are thinking here, seems that sending people to jail, letting more banks fail, at least allows for some mkt adjustments, maybe even a year or two of lower stock prices but the larger system stays in tact....isnt that easier than risking total unrest Athens style?

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:23 | 2152424 twotraps
twotraps's picture

 I meant ...intact...

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:04 | 2152376 Dermasolarapate...
Dermasolarapaterraphatrima's picture

Excellent work! Sure does put things in perspective.


Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:33 | 2152442 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Australia's ANZ Bank to slash 1,000 jobs


Look, austerity for average Joe is one thing, a good thing. But this bank downsizing has got to stop! It's depressing the entire world. Our heroes, our Gurus, the Masters of the Universe....fired and unemployed???

What's a world once the wizards have been outed from behind the curtain? What's a deposed dictator without a people to dictate to? It's enough to break your heart, your spirit and your faith

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:44 | 2152471 Boilermaker
Boilermaker's picture

PSSSST:  Come here...I wanna tell you somethin'.  It don't make no difference.  It's all fucking bullshit anyway.  They'll just print more and more and the average person don't even know what the fuck your talking 'bout.

Oh yea, kid, here's a freebie.  They'll gas the living shit out the futures all night long on the Greece is saved nonsense.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:50 | 2152486 Imminent Collapse
Imminent Collapse's picture

Watching this is scary, but more disconcerting is not knowing how best to protect yourself from the coming shitstorm. PMs used to be thought to provide shelter but lately that has been questioned. In the end the government can do whatever it wants to. Constitution be damned.

Very sad.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 13:07 | 2153946 TeresaE
TeresaE's picture

paper and offsite PMs may fall, or thanks to India & China may not.

Physical will still mean something on the black market.

Running a small biz today leads me to believe the black market is going to be the Walmart of the future.  I'm sure Walmart will still be around to take your government scrip, I'm also sure your local small arms, real food, and medicine dealers will be very happy to give you value in for your silver.

Fiat on.

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 23:53 | 2152492 j12t
j12t's picture

Could somebody overlay price levels over these charts? Or the gold price?

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 00:38 | 2152542 illadeljim
illadeljim's picture

The government has to be the ultimate source of dumb money. They cut so many blank checks that the real market is now so distorted in America that if they ever take away the crack, there is gonna be major withdrawl. No wonder a college education now costs over $100k -- the government is standing by the cut the check to the money vamps who run the degree mills.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 00:40 | 2152548 cranky-old-geezer
cranky-old-geezer's picture



Cash for Trash

Worthless Asset Laundering Facility of the United States (WALFUS)

1st chart looks like approaching currency collapse to me.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 07:35 | 2152884 atomic180
atomic180's picture

Whats worth more an MBS valued at 90% face paying a 6.5% div. vs a new issue 30yr paying 3%.   

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 09:23 | 2153090 cranky-old-geezer
cranky-old-geezer's picture



So Fed is a hedge fund now?

Only reason that MBS is worth 90% is Fed bought boatloads of 'em keeping the market pumped up.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 13:10 | 2153954 TeresaE
TeresaE's picture

"...Only reason that MBS is worth 90% is Fed bought boatloads of 'em keeping the market pumped up..."


Well that, and FASB throwing out Mark to Market.

Listing crap at 100% of prime has been very, very good to the monetary geniuses running this show.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 00:43 | 2152551 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Online Chinese Mausoleum for Whitney Houston

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 00:53 | 2152562 Esculent 69
Esculent 69's picture

Serfin' USA

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 01:29 | 2152642 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

There's a pretty nifty solution to neutering the FED's debt leverage here that deals with the concept of coin seigniorage

"Coin seigniorage is now being mentioned increasingly on popular blogs as a possible solution to the debt ceiling crisis. It is the only solution currently being suggested that requires no agreement in Congress and also no challenge to the debt ceiling law itself. If Congress fails to increase the debt ceiling by August 2nd, it may even become the constitutional duty of the President to use coin seigniorage to avoid default.

But the proof platinum coin seigniorage alternative comes in more than one flavor. It's actually a class of alternatives. Here are some different con seigniorage proposals.

First, mint a $1.6 Trillion coin and have Treasury use the profits from it to buy all the outstanding debt instruments held by the Fed. This would retire a substantial part of the national debt and immediately create $1.6 T in “headroom” relative to the debt ceiling. This alternative involves the least amount of change in current procedures. The coin, once deposited at the Fed, would remain in a Fed vault, and would not go into circulation. The Government would then go right back to issuing debt in order to meet its debt obligations and spend previous Congressional appropriations. With this alternative it is hard for critics to raise the inflation issue, since the new credits created by the coin are never spent into the economy, but are only used to reduce buy back the debt held by the Fed because that debt counts against the debt ceiling.

One objection made to coin seigniorage proposals is that the high face values of the coins would drive up the market price of platinum. However, the Mint is already scheduled to produce 15,000 platinum coins having relatively small arbitrary face value. There would be no conceivable need for more than enough material for 100 very high face value proof platinum coins. So there really is no supply issue.

Having said that, every time the Mint creates a high value coin for deposit at the Fed, it would have to create a duplicate coin, so that it had the means to swap with the Fed if it ever decided to redeem the coin for currency of equal value. This is not a likely event; but it is possible. So, it would be necessary to create duplicate coins and place them in a vault at the Mint.

A second proposal is to mint a $6.2 T coin to pay back all debt held by the Fed, and all Intra-governmental debt, including that owed to Social Security, Medicare, and a host of other other agencies. That would create $6.2 T in headroom, more than enough to carry us through the 2014 elections. Again, this wouldn't result in any “money” immediately going into circulation, but over time SS and Medicare payments would be adding to bank reserves without any reserves being withdrawn from the system due to debt issuance. Some might think this would be inflationary, because they believe that net reserves added to the private sector are more inflationary than debt instruments added would have been. However, there's evidence that debt instruments provide much higher leverage than added reserves, and, in addition, they lead to greater interest payments than reserves do, even if the Fed decides it wants to pay interest on reserves, which it doesn't always do...."

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 02:26 | 2152719 Non Passaran
Non Passaran's picture

Requires no authorization from Congress? Oh that's just great!

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 08:15 | 2152914 Moe Howard
Moe Howard's picture

We need a couple of $100 Trillion Treasury Notes, give them to the Fed and China, keep the change, and then make those notes no longer legal tender. So sorry.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 13:13 | 2153975 TeresaE
TeresaE's picture

I still can't see a difference from just printing $1.2 trillion dollar bills in an accounting entry.

Creating value out of thin air with next-to-nothing (other than a war machine) to back it up.

I'm sure it will work just fine as it accomplishes nothing other than a MSM focused frenzy on how great it is.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 01:32 | 2152647 caerus
caerus's picture

the fed is not federal...even the name is a is (as most here know) a privately held bank that through its control of monetary policy creates periods of artificial prosperity and inevitable despair...

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 01:32 | 2152651 the 300000000th...
the 300000000th percent's picture

Assets???? Looks more like liabilities to me

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 01:35 | 2152664 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

The taxpayers' liabilities are their assets....consider it an installment plan on global ownership.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 01:39 | 2152669 q5251355
q5251355's picture

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Mon, 02/13/2012 - 01:42 | 2152673 caerus
caerus's picture

that's one ugly jacket man

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 01:48 | 2152678 Alcuin Bramerton
Alcuin Bramerton's picture

The Fed was not short of money in December 2008. Audited accounts indicate that in just one account (Special Federal Reserve Board Account no. 5525525424AM - account name "Spiritual Wonder Boy") the Fed had black screen standing balance funds well in excess of US$ 2.178 quattuordecillion.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 06:18 | 2152860 PaperBear
PaperBear's picture

So that's where all the world's wealth went to.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 02:33 | 2152726 caerus
caerus's picture

nervos belli pecuniam infinitam

nihil sub sole novum

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 03:19 | 2152765 Element
Element's picture

Structural discontinuity bitchez

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 04:14 | 2152806 caerus
caerus's picture


remember this? good times...

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 04:28 | 2152813 Shell Game
Shell Game's picture

The Tools take us to Parabola


Mon, 02/13/2012 - 04:33 | 2152815 Colonial Intent
Colonial Intent's picture

"Amazing" how the feds asset sheet doubled during WW1 and WW2 but was flat during peacetime.......................

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 05:41 | 2152844 Hobbleknee
Hobbleknee's picture

Nothing to see here. Move along, citizen. 

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 05:42 | 2152845 Hobbleknee
Hobbleknee's picture

double post

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 08:55 | 2153004 Element
Element's picture

You mean the Central Bankster cabal has already started WW3?

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 06:16 | 2152859 PaperBear
PaperBear's picture

So ends the age of central banking.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 07:50 | 2152892 XtraBullish
XtraBullish's picture

Just buy quality common stocks and pm's and jettison all fiat the exact second it hits your bank account. Wiremar returneth...long live Zimbabwe.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 08:44 | 2152974 ATM
ATM's picture

Endless money forms the sinews of war - Cicero

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 11:07 | 2153417 Borodog
Borodog's picture

The graphic is a bit misleading; the Fed has no gold reserves at all. It holds $11B in "gold certificates" from the US treasury, which are not an encumbrance on the Treasury's gold at all, just $11B in FRNs.

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 12:28 | 2153783 twotraps
twotraps's picture

so what you're saying is that its all a bunch of made up shit?   Totally agree, its a big silly game with no rules, no out of bounds, no prosecution, no nothing.  We just sit, wait for the next scandal to top the previous one in law-bending-stupidity and enjoy the show.  

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 12:52 | 2153895 Thamesford
Thamesford's picture

I believe these charts show assets owned by the Fed. i.e. it actually bought them with printed money.

However, where are the loans made under the discount window reflected? The increase in the USD money supply over time can only have come from the Fed. It will be interesting if we ever see the "shadow" balance sheet as well.

Does anyone have any information or point of view realted to the abvoe question and statements?

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 12:53 | 2153897 Thamesford
Thamesford's picture


Sun, 02/19/2012 - 21:02 | 2176315 q5251355
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