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Not afraid to say no. (AP)

Fed Behaving Dangerously, Fed President Says

Jul 1, 2011

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Every time the Fed's key policy committee met last year, almost everybody in the group agreed on what the Fed should do.

On today's Planet Money, we talk to the one guy who, meeting after meeting, cast the lone "no" vote: Thomas Hoenig, president of the Kansas City Fed.

Hoenig thinks the Fed is repeating mistakes of the past, keeping interest rates too low for too long. That risks creating another bubble — and another crash, he says.

Hoenig says the Fed's decision to lower interest rates in 2003 helped fuel the credit bubble that led to the recession:

...unemployment is high today because we tried to make it lower, faster than we should have in 2003. We should learn from that. ... I want to see pepole back to work. But I want them back to work permanently. I don't want them back to work until the next bubble pops and we have unemployment back up to 11 or 12 percent.

...during that boom period of the decade of the 2000s, America leveraged itself up tremendously. Consumers increased their debt levels from 80 percent of disposable income to 125 percent. Banks increased their leverage ... Then the crash comes, you still have all this debt. That takes time to work off ... and if you try and rush it ... you cause yourself to recreate new bubbles. You're in the long run only going to hurt those very people you're trying to help.

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