The Federal Reserve obeyed the law when it took action during the financial crisis, and did a better job than it did with the 1980s savings-and-loan collapse, according to a study from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Although critics contended that some the Fed's actions were illegal or excessive -- such as lending money to undercapitalized banks -- Chairman Ben Bernanke argued that the Fed had those powers based on laws written at the time of the Great Depression.

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