The central bank then subtracts all its operating expenses, such as for buildings and employee salaries, and refunds the money left over to taxpayers. The $89 billion refunded to taxpayers is the highest ever, topping the $79.3 billion in 2010 and $75.4 billion in 2011.
It is a nice reminder that the Fed’s unconventional efforts to ease monetary policy, which currently include buying $85 billion in securities each month, are not the same as spending taxpayer money; rather, the Fed is buying assets that can actually create a return. At the same time, taxpayers could still end up losing money on the transactions. If interest rates rise significantly in the future, and the Fed sells off the assets to try to stem inflation, the Fed could end up taking a loss.
But for now, it turns out that printing money is a highly profitable business.