This final note today, in honor of the opening of corporate earnings season. Alcoa reported profits after the bell this afternoon, basically in line with expectations.
Also reporting was the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. It's got all those Treasury bonds it's been holding, and loans the Fed's made under its various bailout or stimulus programs. Bottom line -- in the most literal sense of the word -- the Fed cleared almost $81 billion in profit last year. Almost all of that -- $78 billion -- gets sent to the Treasury Department for deposit in the general fund. The rest is what the Fed's going to use for operating expenses.