The Fed bought more US debt than was available.
So far this calendar year, the Federal Reserve has bought up more U.S. government debt than the U.S. Treasury has issued.
On Dec. 31, the total debt of the U.S. government was $16.4327 trillion and then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced that the government had hit what was then the legal debt limit. Last week, however, Congress enacted a law to suspend the federal government debt limit until May 18, 2013, and allow the administration to resume increasing the debt.
By the close of business on Wednesday, Feb. 6, according to the U.S. Treasury, the total federal debt had climbed to $16.4799 trillion—an increase of $47.2 billon for the calendar year.
At the close of business on Jan. 2, the Federal Reserve had owned $1.661 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities. By the close of business on Feb. 6, it owned $1.7172 trillion—an increase of $51.1 billion for the calendar year.
Thus, the Federal Reserve’s purchases of U.S. government debt in this calendar year have exceeded the Treasury’s net debt issues by about $3.9 billion.
This is pretty common, actually.
The Treasury can exercise emergency measures to keep the government funded for a short period of time.
Which is why the debt limit vote was scheduled in Februrary, rather than at the end of December, where the debt limit technically was.
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