A top Federal Reserve official said Tuesday that it's necessary to mull how banks that are considered "too big to fail" can be broken up so they no longer pose a systemic risk to the U.S. economy.

An initial way to define "too big to fail" banks could be to take firms that have $50 billion or more of assets or have $100 billion or more of assets under management, Thomas Hoenig, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, told a panel at the annual meeting of the American Economics Association.

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