The federal government received a record $88.9 billion in 2012 from the Federal Reserve, which earned its money from the mortgage-backed securities and Treasury bonds it purchased to stabilize the economy.
The Associated Press reports that the Fed's 2012 payment was a 17.9% increase from 2011, when it paid $75.4 billion. The previous record payment, $79.3 billion, was in 2010. Prior to the creation of its first bond buying program in 2008, the Fed's annual payments to the government were averaging below $30 billion.
As a result of its purchases, the Fed's balance sheet is now $2.92 trillion, which is more than three times the size of the central bank's holdings prior to the 2008 economic meltdown.