There is so much in the government’s official deficit figures that is phony it is hard to say what is real.
But we should add at least $89 billion to the official deficit figure. To see why, we need a bit of background.
The US government deficit is supposed to be running at around $1.2 trillion. But the government gets there by using accounting methods that would put private business executives in jail for fraud. The real deficit by different estimates should be multiples higher. This is already widely known.
It is also increasingly understood that the Fed is covering the deficit by creating new money out of thin air and using it to buy the government’s bonds. What is not generally understood is that the Fed then posts “income” from the newly purchased bonds, uses some of it to cover its own expenses, which are not subject to Congressional oversight, and then remits the rest to the Treasury. The Treasury in turn can use this phony income to reduce the deficit.
Consider what has happened here. The government sells a bond to itself by selling it to the Fed. The Fed then “charges” the government interest. The interest is actually paid by borrowing more from the Fed, but nevertheless is booked as real Treasury income and used to “reduce” the deficit.
A Bloomberg article mentions in passing that the Fed sent $88.9 billion of this phony income to the Treasury in 2012. That is another $89 billion that should really be added to the deficit.
To put this $89 billion in perspective, it is much larger than the $62 billion per year in expected tax revenue from the new taxes on the rich ( those making over $400,000 a year) that were enacted in January with the “fiscal cliff” legislation.