Skip to comments.The Fed Balance Sheet: What Is Uncle Sam's Largest Asset?
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.)
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.
And Who is Uncle Sam’s Largest A$$? That’s a toss-up.
Michelle has this one down.
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. :)
This is all money that has been funneled to the university elites through student fees.
The only asset this country has is the taxpayers. All other are liberal liabilities.
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).
Maybe the Chinese can just pay back the $1.4 trillion they owe us from WW2.
Michelle doesn’t go down.
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,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'.
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.
Student Loans are how Socialists enslave people.
Put stupid students in debt and then promise removal of the debt if they vote for Obama.
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.
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?
Boy, she literally is a “WIDE LOAD”.
Uncle Sam’s largest asset is the American people.
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?
What about the land they have stolen from the people? Government should no own land.