Fed sent record $88.4 bln profit to U.S. Treasury last year

March 15 Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:00pm EDT

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March 15 (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve sent a record $88.4 billion in profits to the U.S. Treasury last year, audited results showed on Friday, a big payday for the government thanks to the central bank's massive bond purchases.

The income came mostly from $80.5 billion in interest on Treasury bonds and mortage-backed securities, according to the annual financial statements audited by Deloitte. Total Fed bank assets stood at $2.9 trillion at the end of last year.

Preliminary results released in January showed profits of $88.9 billion in 2012, a year in which U.S. government bond prices hit record highs.

The central bank has in the last few years snapped up some $2.5 trillion in assets to help drag the U.S. economy from the 2007-2009 recession; unsatisfied with slow economic growth and high unemployment, it now buys $85 billion in bonds per month.

The Fed regularly transfers its profits, known as remittances, to the Treasury in what amounts to payments to U.S. taxpayers. Those profits could turn to losses in the years ahead, however, if the Fed sells assets as interest rates rise.

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