Paper Money

Federal Reserve reports earnings for 2017

The Federal Reserve reports that the value of $100 Federal Reserve notes that remain outstanding totals $1,251.7 billion. Shown is a Series 2013 $100 note.

Original images courtesy of Ira Zuckerman.

Not only is it the central bank of the United States, but the Federal Reserve System looks as if it is a pretty good business to be in, as well.

The independent government agency on March 23 released its annual audited financial statements for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017. The report says that the organization’s operations resulted in earnings of $80.7 billion, of which $80.6 billion was remitted to the U.S. Treasury.

The Fed also reported total operating expenses of $6.8 billion. The part of that related to paper money represents such a minuscule portion that its does not even have its own line in the report. Buried in a list of seven categories of operating expenses is the category “Board of Governors operating expenses and currency costs,” which totaled $1.464 billion. A further breakdown of actual paper currency costs shows that printing, transportation, and destruction of mutilated currency was $674 million of that amount.

The value of Federal Reserve notes outstanding as of the end of the year was $1,570,727,000,000, a slight increase over the $1,462,939,000,000 from the previous year. The amount is apportioned as follows: $1 note – $12.1 billion, $2 – $2.4 billion, $5 – $14.8 billion, $10 – $19.6 billion, $20 – $183.8 billion, $50 – $86.4 billion, $100 – $1,251.7 billion, and $500 to $10,000 notes – $0.3 billion.

Estimates of the amount of United States currency held abroad vary between 30 percent and the more widely cited 65 percent. Most of this is in $100 bills.

The consolidated report for the system itself along with individual reports for each of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks may be read and downloaded here.

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