The US Federal Reserve may have underestimated the looming 2007 global financial crisis, released transcripts from its meetings that year have shown.
The documents suggested Fed Governor Ben Bernanke wanted to hold off from addressing rising panic in the markets.
He said in December of that year that he did not “expect insolvency or near insolvency among major financial institutions”.
Yet many US banks and other financial firms had to be rescued in 2008.
With most of the country’s major lenders discovering billion-dollar losses linked to bad mortgage debt as the US housing market collapsed, investment banks such as Bear Stearns needed government funds ahead of being sold off cheaply, while another, Lehman Brothers, was ultimately closed down.
In 2008, the US government also had to bailout the federal mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Although the financial crisis started in the US as a result of the sharp downturn in the country’s housing market, it quickly spread around the world as US mortgage debt had been repackaged and sold to banks and other financial institutions around the globe.