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Each morning Mr. Frost and his team face a formidable task: they must try to buy Treasuries at the best possible price from the savviest bond traders in the business.
The smallest miscalculation, a few one-hundredths of a percentage point here or there, could unsettle the markets and cost taxpayers dearly. It could also embolden critics at home and abroad who say QE2 represents a dangerous expansion of the Fed’s role in the markets.
“We are looking to get the best price we can for the taxpayer,” said Mr. Frost, a buttoned-down 34-year-old in a striped suit and rimless glasses.
Whether Mr. Frost will reach that goal is uncertain. What is sure is that market interest rates have risen, rather than fallen, since the Fed embarked on the program in November. That is the opposite of what was supposed to happen, although rates might have been even higher without the Fed program.
Mr. Frost’s task is to avoid paying top dollar for bonds that could be worth less when the Fed tries to sell them one day.
“A buyer of $100 billion a month is always going to be paying top prices,” Mr. Crandall said of the Fed. “You can’t be a known buyer of $100 billion a month and get a good price.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Frost and his team have been praised on Wall Street for creating a simple, transparent program. Neither the Fed nor Wall Street wants any surprises. The central bank is even disclosing the prices at which it buys.
Mr. Frost and his team work out of a small, beige corner office with arched windows that used to be a library. There, at about 10:15 most workday mornings, one of them pushes a button on a computer. Across Wall Street, three musical notes — an F, an E and a D — sound on trading terminals, alerting traders that the Fed is in the market.
On one recent Tuesday morning, what Mr. Frost and his five young colleagues did over a 45-minute period might have unsettled even a seasoned Wall Street hand: they bought $7.8 billion of Treasuries.
Mr. Frost, and his boss, Brian P. Sack, insist the program has succeeded. Mr. Sack, 40, joined the Fed 18 months ago to run the entire markets group. He has a Ph.D. from M.I.T. and worked most recently for a Washington consulting firm. In 2004, he wrote a paper with Ben S. Bernanke, the future chairman of the Federal Reserve, and another economist about unconventional measures for stimulating the economy in extraordinary times — just like large-scale purchases of Treasuries.
The Federal Reserve System (also known as the Federal Reserve, and informally as The Fed) is the central banking system of the United States. It was created in 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907. Over time, the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve System have expanded and its structure has evolved. Events such as the Great Depression were major factors leading to changes in the system. Its duties today, according to official Federal Reserve documentation, are to conduct the nation's monetary policy, supervise and regulate banking institutions, maintain the stability of the financial system and provide financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions.
According to the Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve is independent within government in that "its decisions do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branch of government." However, its authority is derived from the U.S. Congress and is subject to congressional oversight. Additionally, the members of the Board of Governors, including its chairman and vice-chairman, are chosen by the President and confirmed by Congress. The government also exercises some control over the Federal Reserve by appointing and setting the salaries of the system's highest-level employees. Thus the Federal Reserve has both private and public aspects. The U.S. Government receives all of the system's annual profits, after a statutory dividend of 6% on member banks' capital investment is paid, and an account surplus is maintained
Originally posted by charles1952
I'm glad the article clearly mentioned QE2 (quantitative easing). This is a very controversial tactic. Many economists believe that by simply injecting more and more new dollars into the system, dollars will become worth less, it will take more money to buy things as prices go up. (Inflation) And really that is all the Fed is doing, saying we'll create X billion dollars as a paper entry and credit it to the government when we buy government bonds, or other instruments.
So, in this cycle, the government counts the $X billion as new revenue and can spend it as needed, AND the Fed gets to claim a billion dollars in assets. After all, they just bought government bonds and those have to be worth a lot, don't they?
Originally posted by speculativeoptimist
reply to post by donatellanator
I my have been the obtuse one, with an emotional knee-jerk response. I was not aware it was so impractical, but you are right. www.constitution.org...
So now what? Even when this stuff goes mainstream, it doesn't stick and nothing seems to get resolved.
Color me even more disenchanted with hope for our future....
I don't understand how a technically non-gov agency can buy bonds with tax dollars!