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Federal Reserve Holdings and the U.S. Stock Market

February 14, 2022 • Posted in Economic Indicators, Strategic Allocation

Using quarterly data in their April 2013 paper entitled “Analyzing Federal Reserve Asset Purchases: From Whom Does the Fed Buy?” Seth Carpenter, Selva Demiralp, Jane Ihrig and Elizabeth Klee find that some categories of investors appear to sell U.S. Treasuries to the Federal Reserve and rebalance toward riskier assets (corporate bonds, commercial paper, and municipal debt). Are stocks, proxied by for SPDR S&P 500 (SPY), a part of this process? To investigate, we relate weekly, monthly and quarterly U.S. stock market returns to changes in the Federal Reserve’s System Open Market Account (SOMA) holdings, comprised of U.S. Treasury bills, U.S. Treasury notes and bonds, U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIP) and Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS). The Federal Reserve reports these holdings as of Wednesday, typically with a 1-day lag. Using weekly (Thursday close) dividend-adjusted prices for SPY and weekly total SOMA holdings during early July 2003 through January 2022, we find that:

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