Representative Ron Paul has hit upon a remarkably creative way to deal with the impasse over the debt ceiling: have the Federal Reserve Board destroy the $1.6 trillion in government bonds it now holds. While at first blush this idea may seem crazy, on more careful thought it is actually a very reasonable way to deal with the crisis. Furthermore, it provides a way to have lasting savings to the budget.
The basic story is that the Fed has bought roughly $1.6 trillion in government bonds through its various quantitative easing programs over the last two and a half years. This money is part of the $14.3 trillion debt that is subject to the debt ceiling. However, the Fed is an agency of the government. Its assets are in fact assets of the government. Each year, the Fed refunds the interest earned on its assets in excess of the money needed to cover its operating expenses. Last year the Fed refunded almost $80 billion to the Treasury. In this sense, the bonds held by the Fed are literally money that the government owes to itself.
Unlike the debt held by Social Security, the debt held by the Fed is not tied to any specific obligations. The bonds held by the Fed are assets of the Fed. It has no obligations that it must use these assets to meet. There is no one who loses their retirement income if the Fed doesn’t have its bonds. In fact, there is no direct loss of income to anyone associated with the Fed’s destruction of its bonds. This means that if Congress told the Fed to burn the bonds, it would in effect just be destroying a liability that the government had to itself, but it would still reduce the debt subject to the debt ceiling by $1.6 trillion. This would buy the country considerable breathing room before the debt ceiling had to be raised again. President Obama and the Republican congressional leadership could have close to two years to talk about potential spending cuts or tax increases. Maybe they could even talk a little about jobs.
In addition, there’s a second reason why Representative Paul’s plan is such a good idea. As it stands now, the Fed plans to sell off its bond holdings over the next few years. This means that the interest paid on these bonds would go to banks, corporations, pension funds, and individual investors who purchase them from the Fed. In this case, the interest payments would be a burden to the Treasury since the Fed would no longer be collecting (and refunding) the interest.
To be sure, there would be consequences to the Fed destroying these bonds. The Fed had planned to sell off the bonds to absorb reserves that it had pumped into the banking system when it originally purchased the bonds. These reserves can be created by the Fed when it has need to do so, as was the case with the quantitative easing policy. Creating reserves is in effect a way of “printing money.” During a period of high unemployment, this can boost the economy with little fear of inflation, since there are many unemployed workers and excess capacity to keep downward pressure on wages and prices. However, at some point the economy will presumably recover and inflation will be a risk. This is why the Fed intends to sell off its bonds in future years. Doing so would reduce the reserves of the banking system, thereby limiting lending and preventing inflation. If the Fed doesn’t have the bonds, however, then it can’t sell them off to soak up reserves.
Pretty sure you've always wanted to see me naked.. Well.. I'm feeling pretty adventurous today so go to datelink4(dot)com (switch [dot] with .) then sign up and find my profile under the username 'lolsummer69'. I hid my face in the pictures. but I want you to guess who I am and then hit me up on Facebook lol. Good luck.