Ben Bernanke presided over his first meeting as Federal Reserve chairman in March 2006 believing the nation could achieve a "soft landing" from falling home prices. Three months later, Bernanke had begun to grasp that he and others might have underestimated the risk housing posed to the economy.

Newly released transcripts of Fed meetings during Bernanke's first year as chairman show that, among Fed officials, he often expressed the most concern about housing. But no official, according to the transcripts, recognized the extent of the damage a housing bubble would cause. A year later, its collapse helped send the nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In fact, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then a Fed official, expressed confidence in September that "collateral damage" from housing could be avoided.

 

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