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The Fed Balance Sheet: What Is Uncle Sam's Largest Asset?
Advisor Perspectives ^ | 6-8-2012 | Doug Short

Posted on 06/09/2012 7:17:02 AM PDT by blam

The Fed Balance Sheet: What Is Uncle Sam's Largest Asset?

By Doug Short June 8, 2012

(Note from dshort: I've updated the quiz based on yesterday's (Thursdays) Q1 Flow of Funds release. Hint: The correct answer is the same, just more incredible.)

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Pop Quiz! Without recourse to your text, your notes or a Google search, what line item is the largest asset on Uncle Sam's balance sheet?

A) U.S. Official Reserve Assets
B) Total Mortgages
C) Taxes Receivable
D) Student Loans

The correct answer, as of the latest Flow of Funds report for Q1 2012, is ... Student Loans.

The rapid growth in student debt has been a frequent topic in the financial press. One stunning chart that caught my attention illustrated the rapid growth in federal loans to students since the onset of the great recession. Here is a chart based on data from the Flow of Funds Table L.105, which shows the Federal Government's assets and liabilities.

As I point out on the chart, the two callouts are for Q4 2007, the quarter in which the Great Recession began (December 2007) the most recent quarter on record, Q1 2012. The loan balance has risen and astonishing 332% over that timeframe, most of which dates from after the recession.

This chart only includes federal loans to students. Private loans make up an even larger amount. Earlier this year the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) posted an article with the attention-grabbing title: Too Big to Fail: Student debt hits a trillion. The details of the private student loan market are not readily available, but CFPB plans to publish its study results on the topic this summer.

But back to our quiz. Student loans may be a liability on the consumer balance sheet, but they constitute an asset for Uncle Sam. Just how big? Nearly 35% of the total federal assets, over four times the 8.6% percent for the total mortgages outstanding.

Of course, assets are, sadly, the trivial side of Uncle Sam's Flow of Funds balance sheet -- about 1.36 Trillion. The liability side totaled 12.65 Trillion at the end of Q1 (details here).

Student loan debt is something we'll want to continue watching, especially when more details of the private loan market becomes available.



TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: assets; economy; loans; usfed

1 posted on 06/09/2012 7:17:13 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam

And Who is Uncle Sam’s Largest A$$? That’s a toss-up.


2 posted on 06/09/2012 7:19:38 AM PDT by Mygirlsmom (Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson, Reince Preibus. The Cheesehead Revolution to save America.)
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To: blam

Michelle has this one down.


3 posted on 06/09/2012 7:21:56 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Obama needs more time. After all -- Rome wasn't burned in a day.)
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To: blam

China ought be willing to loan us more money to expand the student loan program. After all, creating a few million more American liberal arts graduates will get them closer to achieving their geopolitical goals than any amount of military spending they could engage in as an alternative. :)


4 posted on 06/09/2012 7:23:21 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves (CTRL-GALT-DELETE)
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To: blam

This is all money that has been funneled to the university elites through student fees.


5 posted on 06/09/2012 7:25:26 AM PDT by oldbrowser (They are marxists, don't call them democrats)
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To: blam

The only asset this country has is the taxpayers. All other are liberal liabilities.


6 posted on 06/09/2012 7:27:10 AM PDT by mountainlion (I am voting for Sarah after getting screwed again by the DC Thugs.)
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To: blam

Funny that the balance sheet doesn’t include property, plant and equipment. In which case it’s meaningless. The fedgov owns 30% of the total landmass of the US. That’s 650,000,000 acres, and is mostly in the west. 45% of CA for example is owned by the feds, 85% of NV, etc. IOW, my simple strategy is that the feds sell land to pay off the national debt. That and massive cuts which get fed spending below 10% of gdp. What that means is the end of socialism security and other so-called entitlements (all they are is unconstitutional [and in many cases immoral] wealth transfers in any event).


7 posted on 06/09/2012 7:27:36 AM PDT by RKV (He who has the guns makes the rules)
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To: Mr. Jeeves

Maybe the Chinese can just pay back the $1.4 trillion they owe us from WW2.


8 posted on 06/09/2012 7:33:54 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: ClearCase_guy
That's one tough "asset" to balance...


9 posted on 06/09/2012 7:35:44 AM PDT by mikrofon (Comparative Analysis)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Michelle doesn’t go down.


10 posted on 06/09/2012 7:36:29 AM PDT by hflynn
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To: blam
The Fed Balance Sheet: What Is Uncle Sam's Largest Asset?
Just from the Headline my first thought was of something not in any of the 'Asset' charts, to wit: Land and Mineral Values

With all the land that the US Gubmint 'owns' (stolen from the states) and all the minerals on or in them: from Copper, Silver, and Gold, to Oil, and even the Lumber on the land -- I'd think that would be the biggest 'asset'. It just isn't in cash.

3. assets,
a. items of ownership convertible into cash; total resources of a person or business, as cash, notes and accounts receivable, securities, inventories, goodwill, fixtures, machinery, or real estate.
b. Accounting . the items detailed on a balance sheet, especially in relation to liabilities and capital.
c. all property available for the payment of debts, especially of a bankrupt or insolvent firm or person.
d. Law . property in the hands of an heir, executor, or administrator, that is sufficient to pay the debts or legacies of a deceased person.
Now just because the Gubmint doesn't use those assets doesn't change the definition of them or make them worthless and not an 'asset'.
11 posted on 06/09/2012 7:39:09 AM PDT by Condor51 (Yo Hoffa, so you want to 'take out conservatives'. Well okay Jr - I'm your Huckleberry)
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To: RKV
BUMP!
12 posted on 06/09/2012 7:40:48 AM PDT by shove_it (just undo it)
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To: blam

Student Loans are how Socialists enslave people.

Put stupid students in debt and then promise removal of the debt if they vote for Obama.


13 posted on 06/09/2012 7:41:42 AM PDT by Presbyterian Reporter
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To: blam

The largest asset the U.S. has is its selfless men and women serving daily in the Armed Forces that protect our freedom. Despite the liberals attempts to sell it off to the highest bidder.


14 posted on 06/09/2012 7:42:45 AM PDT by Delta 21 (Oh Crap !! Did I say that out loud ??!??)
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To: RKV

Am I the only one who believes that title of public lands in the federal territories should have passed to the states, when they became states?


15 posted on 06/09/2012 7:44:44 AM PDT by jdege
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To: mikrofon

Boy, she literally is a “WIDE LOAD”.


16 posted on 06/09/2012 7:45:54 AM PDT by Delta 21 (Oh Crap !! Did I say that out loud ??!??)
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To: blam

Uncle Sam’s largest asset is the American people.


17 posted on 06/09/2012 7:48:48 AM PDT by SkyDancer ("Talent Without Ambition Is Sad - Ambition Without Talent Is Worse")
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To: RKV

Agreed. It would be good to see a financial analysis of the federal government, including all property owned, using generally accepted accounting principles. Let’s see the balance sheet side of things, and see what the actual value of assets minus liabilities really is.

Why does the federal government own 85% of Nevada? How did that come about? Especially in a time of trillions in debt, shouldn’t we look at selling off assets?


18 posted on 06/09/2012 7:51:25 AM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: blam

What about the land they have stolen from the people? Government should no own land.


19 posted on 06/09/2012 7:53:28 AM PDT by Baynative (REMEMBER: Without America there is no free world!)
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To: blam

LAND


20 posted on 06/09/2012 8:01:00 AM PDT by kabar
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To: jdege

Interesting question. At this point it’s moot, and what is needed is to engineer a means to actually pay off our national debt and then ensure we never get in this situation again.


21 posted on 06/09/2012 8:01:16 AM PDT by RKV (He who has the guns makes the rules)
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To: blam

No wonder Obama wants everyone in college.

No one should get student loans.


22 posted on 06/09/2012 8:02:58 AM PDT by Yaelle
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To: SkyDancer

As long as we remain slaves, yes the American people are a large asset of the fedgov. More is the pity.


23 posted on 06/09/2012 8:03:24 AM PDT by RKV (He who has the guns makes the rules)
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To: mikrofon

Carla Bruni is the middle, who is the left one?


24 posted on 06/09/2012 8:05:56 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: Dilbert San Diego

If the fedgov were a publicly traded company the SEC would have shut them down for non-disclosure and or material misstatements of fact.


25 posted on 06/09/2012 8:06:05 AM PDT by RKV (He who has the guns makes the rules)
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To: blam

Biggest asset used to be its work ethic. Per capita, it’s been steadily dwindling.


26 posted on 06/09/2012 8:07:33 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: blam

The major tangible asset that WE THE PEOPLE own is all the federal land locked up by varous special interest legislation.

Trillions of dollars in loans and handouts that will never be paid back may be considered as assets by government accountants but realistically that is money gone forever and should be written off.


27 posted on 06/09/2012 8:08:28 AM PDT by Iron Munro (John Adams: 'Two ways to enslave a country. One is by the sword, the other is by debt')
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To: blam

28 posted on 06/09/2012 8:12:01 AM PDT by kabar
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To: kabar

Must be time to upgrade to a bigger monitor.

MiaT flashback/


29 posted on 06/09/2012 8:17:25 AM PDT by Delta 21 (Oh Crap !! Did I say that out loud ??!??)
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To: blam

Most of that money will go back to the Democrats in Congress as campaign donations, hence more loans hence more money, etc.


30 posted on 06/09/2012 8:18:05 AM PDT by ully2
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To: Delta 21

LOL. Sorry about that.


31 posted on 06/09/2012 8:21:54 AM PDT by kabar
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To: blam
E) None of the above. See below.


32 posted on 06/09/2012 8:23:05 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: blam

I would have thought that Federal Lands would be the largest asset - or don’t they count that ?


33 posted on 06/09/2012 8:29:38 AM PDT by WorkerbeeCitizen (liberalism is the assault on the natural human condition)
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To: blam

None of the above. It’s the State of Alaska.


34 posted on 06/09/2012 8:40:19 AM PDT by Brilliant
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To: EEGator
Princess Letizia of Spain.

Purportedly a fauxto -- butt when you're constantly held up as some sort of fashion maven, you're "wide" open for critique....

35 posted on 06/09/2012 8:46:57 AM PDT by mikrofon (NObama-s '12)
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To: kabar

Land. Exactly. And states should be demanding to get their land back from the feds, so they can put it to productive use.


36 posted on 06/09/2012 9:07:55 AM PDT by Twotone (Marte Et Clypeo)
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To: blam

I would think the amount of land the feds own would be the largest asset. Every year millions of acres are taken over or “preserved as open space”. What do the feds plan to do with all that land?


37 posted on 06/09/2012 9:33:48 AM PDT by raybbr (People who still support Obama are either a Marxist or a moron.)
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To: blam

[ What Is Uncle Sam’s Largest Asset? ]

When the Federal or State givernments can Tax something you OWN..

You’re paying RENT ON IT!... you don’t own it at all..
The proper question is do you own anything?..

-OR- do you merely appear to own something?..
Property taxes are a bit obscene.. and humorous..
And income taxes are a cartoon...

Americans have been quite brain washed..
Yes.. thats right I’m talking to YOU!!!..


38 posted on 06/09/2012 9:39:08 AM PDT by hosepipe (This propaganda has been edited to include some fully orbed hyperbole...)
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To: mikrofon

Her or her 100 person multi million dollar staff sure screwed the pooch on that one.

I are going to Europe. All the most important people in the world will be there and they will be dressed to kill, so I will dress like I am going to company picnic.


39 posted on 06/09/2012 9:50:51 AM PDT by winodog
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To: RKV

bttt


40 posted on 06/09/2012 10:36:18 AM PDT by petercooper (The one difference between Obama & Romney: Obama is only half white.)
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To: kabar
The red is the Federal property.

(ahem) I wonder why they take only the centers?

41 posted on 06/09/2012 10:42:34 AM PDT by blam
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To: mikrofon

Thank you.


42 posted on 06/09/2012 10:54:17 AM PDT by EEGator
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To: blam
ahem) I wonder why they take only the centers?

LOL. I guess they want to be moderates, i.e., non-partisan.

43 posted on 06/09/2012 10:56:39 AM PDT by kabar
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To: FreedomPoster
See the red rectangular area on the map in northwest Florida, that is 640 square mile Eglin Air Force Base. I've read, the largest military base in the world. When the 30,000 pound MOAB bomb was tested there, (I read that)only those involved with the test heard it explode.
44 posted on 06/09/2012 10:57:56 AM PDT by blam
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To: blam

The large area locked up in federal parks, reserves and wildernesses counted as federal assets.


45 posted on 06/09/2012 11:43:34 AM PDT by tbw2
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To: blam

Bring back slavery and sell all Federal employees — legislative, executive, judicial — to Alaska for $!. Round them up and ship them to the ANWR where they can do something they’ve never done before; work for a living building their survival community. Once these people are located to the ANWR, they can never leave.


46 posted on 06/09/2012 12:30:48 PM PDT by MasterGunner01 (11)
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