The U.S. Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it transferred a record $47.4 billion to the U.S. Treasury in 2009 as a result of its programs to help the economy and financial firms during the financial crisis.
The increase in income was primarily due to interest earnings on mortgage-backed securities issued by government supported mortgage finance agencies, the Fed said.
Some of the data in the Fed's 2009 annual financial statement revises estimates released in January.
The 12 Fed regional banks are required to transfer their profits to the Treasury after paying dividends to member banks and retaining some of their surplus.
Fed officials said the U.S. central bank's payment to the Treasury in 2009 was a $15.7 billion, or 50 percent, increase over 2008. The previous record was $34.6 billion in 2007, and the pre-crisis level was around $20 billion, Fed officials told reporters.
The Fed took unprecedented actions to prop up the economy during the storm but has been under fire from lawmakers on Capitol Hill over financial firm bailouts and regulatory lapses.
The credit risk on the Fed's balance sheet is down sharply as its loans have decreased and Treasury and government-sponsored mortgage finance agency securities make up a larger share of the central bank's assets, a Fed official said.
Financial reforms are a top priority for President Barack Obama, and news that the U.S. central bank has been profitable for taxpayers may strengthen the Fed's hand as lawmakers decide whether to enhance its powers over banks.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Diane Craft)