Why? Because gold is carried on the Fed's books at $42 an ounce. I cannot remember the last time gold was $42 an ounce.
Interviewed Monday this week on the "Trading Day" program of Business News Network in Canada, former Federal Reserve Governor Lyle Gramley hinted that a big upward revaluation of gold may figure heavily in the Fed's attempt to rescue the U.S. economy.
The program's guest host, Niall Ferguson, an author and history professor at Harvard, asked Gramley, now senior adviser at Stanford Group in Houston, about the seemingly grotesque expansion of the Fed's balance sheet in recent months.
Ferguson asked: "I've heard it said that the Fed has turned into a government-owned hedge fund, leveraged at 50 to 1. Do you feel nervous about what this might actually do to the Fed's reputation?"
Gramley replied: "I think you have to reckon with the fact that one of the Fed's assets is gold certificates, which are priced, as I remember, at $42 an ounce, and if we were to price them at market prices, the Fed's leverage would look a lot less than it is now."
Further commentary from Division of Labor.
Gramley has a point. According to the Fed's latest H.4.1 balance sheet release, current Fed gold @$42.22/oz = $11b. Multiplying by 822/42.22 makes it approx. $215b. That would raise the book value of the Fed's capital by the difference of approx. $204b, from $43b (2% of its $2262b assets) to $247b (11%). So if we mark the gold to market, the Fed's balance-sheet leveraging falls from 50:1 down to only 9:1.
I wonder what the Fed's balance sheet would look like if FAS 157 were applied.