The Federal Reserve on Friday released transcripts of the eight meetings its policy committee held in 2007. The meetings occurred as the country was on the brink of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Throughout the year, the housing crisis deepened. Banks and hedge funds that had invested big in subprime mortgages were left with worthless assets as foreclosures rose. The damage reached the top echelons of Wall Street.
Beginning in September 2007, the Fed began to cut interest rates and took extraordinary steps to ease credit and shore up confidence in the banking system. But the transcripts also show members greatly underestimated the scope of the approaching financial crisis and how it would tip the U.S. economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression.
Below are excerpts from those meetings:
From the January 30-31 meeting
"Our goal has been, in some sense, to achieve a soft landing, and the question is whether we have missed the airport."
— Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
From the June 27-28 meeting
"I still feel the presence of a 600-pound gorilla in the room and that is the housing sector. The risk for further significant deterioration in the housing market, with house prices falling and mortgage delinquencies rising further, causes me appreciable angst."
__ Janet Yellen, then-president of Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Yellen now is the vice chairman of the Fed.
From the Oct. 30-31 meeting
"Developments of financial markets on balance since the last meeting have been reassuring. The panic has receded. The disruptions are more contained."
— Timothy Geithner, then-president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in a reference to the banks and hedge funds that were facing huge losses because of the real estate crisis. Geithner later was named Treasury secretary in 2009.
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