(The Hill) Transcripts released Friday of Federal Reserve meetings held throughout 2008 suggest the Fed was caught off guard by the suddenness and severity of the financial crisis that year.

The financial crisis and resulting recession has widely been referred to as the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but it was not immediately clear to the Fed’s economic stewards just how much trouble the nation was in during the immediate aftermath of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, which kindled the collapse.

At a September meeting held one day after Lehman went bankrupt, some Fed officials speculated the economic impact could be muted, and would perhaps be restricted to New York City or the financial sector.

Others argued it was a positive thing that the government did not step in to rescue Lehman, sending a message to markets that the government would not provide a safety net.

Still others, including Chairman Ben Bernanke, said it was too soon to make that call.

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