The Federal Reserve's Magical Balance Sheet

I've said before that when the Great Recession becomes old and quaint enough to be put into a children's book, authors are going to have to find words that rhyme with Bernanke. That's for Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose herculean efforts to flood the banking system with capital has been key to keeping our banks afloat and our economy undead. And the good news is that the Fed now sees it fit to draw back its historic rescue efforts. Here's a graph from the Wall Street Journal Real Time Economics blog that shows just that:

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To be sure, the Fed's balance sheet is still considerably higher than its steady days before the crisis hit. But we're down under $2 trillion for the first time since March. The one area where the Fed seems to have expanded recently is in its buying of troubled mortgage-backed securities -- that is bonds that pay out from a pool of mortgages. You can click through to see an interactive version of the graph here.