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Credit Easing

Following the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, the Federal Reserve introduced a number of new policy tools that have altered both the size and composition of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet. The purpose of these tools has been to support the functioning of financial markets, especially during the crisis, and to provide additional accommodation to the economy during the subsequent recession and recovery when the traditional policy tool, the federal funds rate, has been constrained near zero.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke called the use of the balance sheet in this way “credit easing,” and he broadly divided the tools used into three categories:

  • Lending to financial institutions
  • Providing liquidity to key credit markets
  • Purchasing longer-term securities

This page shows the balance sheet with its components broadly divided into these categories, plus the base of traditional Federal Reserve assets. The charts on this site allow you to see the assets of the balance sheet in a number of ways. Explore them by using the navigation bar on the left. Additionally, the data that underlies these charts is also available.

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