“In the ruin of all collapsed booms is to be found the work of men who bought property at prices they knew perfectly well were fictitious, but who were willing to pay such prices simply because they knew that some still greater fool could be depended on to take the property off their hands and leave them with a profit.”
It’s worth observing that the 10-year Treasury yield is also well above the weighted average interest rate since 2010 (weighting by the quantity of Fed purchases), which means that the Fed is underwater on its holdings. Bernanke himself noted at his recent Humphrey-Hawkins testimony that the recent rise in interest rates had wiped out all of the Fed’s unrealized gains, though he feigned ignorance about how much the Fed would lose if interest rates increased by 100 basis points. The math is easy enough, so let’s do it for him. At $3.5 trillion in assets having an estimated duration of about 8 years, against only $55 billion in capital, a 100 point increase in interest rates would wipe out the Fed’s capital five times over. The Fed would probably show an insolvent balance sheet today if its holdings were actually marked-to-market.