Federal Reserve

Five things to know about Janet Yellen

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 11:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 October, 2013, 4:55pm

Five key facts about Janet Yellen, who will be nominated on Wednesday by US President Barack Obama to take the helm at the Federal Reserve when Ben Bernanke’s term expires on January 31:

  1. If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen, 67, would be the first woman to head the US central bank. Elvira Nabiullina was appointed to lead the Bank of Russia in June, and Zeti Akhtar Aziz has been governor of Malaysia’s Bank Negara since 2000.
  2. Yellen is seen as a dove on monetary policy, favouring strategies that bring down unemployment even at the risk of driving inflation higher. She has said she does not believe there is often a conflict between the two Fed goals. “When the goals conflict and it comes to calling for tough trade-offs, to me, a wise and humane policy is occasionally to let inflation rise even when inflation is running above target,” she said in 1995.
  3. She has extensive policymaking experience. Before her appointment as Fed vice-chair in 2010, Yellen took part in US monetary policymaking as president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank from 2004-2010 and as a governor on the Fed board from 1994 to 1997. She also chaired former president Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors from 1997 to 1999.
  4. Yellen is a sharp and respected economist. With a PhD from Yale, she has taught economics at the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University and the London School of Economics. She has published research on topics as disparate as youth gangs, single mothers, optimal monetary policy, wage and price rigidity and trade.
  5. Economics saturates her personal life. She is married to, and has co-authored several papers with, Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof, whom she met in the fall of 1977 when they were both economists at the Fed board. They married the following June and left the Fed to teach at the London School of Economics. Their only child, now a university economics professor, knew he wanted to go into economics by the time he was 13.