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Revisiting the Fed’s Crisis

BERKELEY – Reading through the just-released transcripts of the US Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee meetings in 2008, I found myself asking the same overarching question: What accounted for the FOMC’s blinkered mindset as crisis erupted all around it?

To be sure, some understood the true nature of the situation. As Jon Hilsenrath of the Wall Street Journal points out, William Dudley, then the executive vice president of the New York Fed’s Markets Group, presented staff research that sought, politely and compellingly, to turn the principals’ attention to where it needed to be focused. And FOMC members Janet Yellen, Donald Kohn, Eric Rosengren, and Frederic Mishkin, along with the Board of Governors in Washington clearly got the message. But the FOMC’s other eight members, and the rest of the senior staff? Not so much (albeit to greatly varying degrees).