Fed Balance Sheet Holdings, Excess Reserves Hit New Record; Agency Prepayments Plunge

For those confused why gold just hit a new all time high of $1,480, it may have something to with this. In the week ended April 13, the Fed's balance sheet hit a new all time record of $2.65 trillion, primarily due to an increase of $15 billion in Treasury holdings by the Fed (chart 1). Not surprising to those who have read our previous post on the matter, prepayments to the Fed have all but dried out, and for the third time in a row there were no MBS prepayments, which at $937.2 billion have declined by just $12 billion since the beginning of March: so much for magnetization demand arising from QE Lite (chart 2). Excess reserves continue to surge increasing by $29 billion in the last week. The increase at this point is more than just one accounting for the $195 billion SFP program unwind (which finished last month): should the economy really improve and banks start lending, all hell may well break loose. At this point the surge in excess reserves (liabilities) is rapidly overtaking the increase in Fed assets since the beginning of QE2 (chart 3). "Other Fed Assets" hit a fresh new ridiculous total: $125 billion, an increase of $2.5 billion over the prior week (chart 4).  If this number is indeed a form of capitalized POMO commission to the PDs, then America likely has a right to know. Lastly for those still curious, the Fed's asset maturing within 1 year are $143 billion (chart 5). Putting this all together, presents the following picture: in a period during which the Fed's assets increased by $203 billion, GDP increased by about 1.5%, once all revisions are in the books. QE2 ends when Q2 ends. And so far, the economic in this quarter is without doubt starting to turn down. What will happen when there is no incremental monetization once Q3 kicks off, and GDP is about to go negative?

Chart 1: total Fed balance sheet

Chart 2 : weekly MBS/Agency putbacks to the Fed

Chart 3: excess reserves compared to total Fed assets

Chart 4: "Other Fed Assets"

Chart 5: maturity distribution

And a bonus chart, for the monetary purists: the money multiplier has dropped to what is probably the lowest ever.