According to reports Janet Yellen is likely to be announced today as the first female chair of the Federal Reserve. Yellen’s nomination would come after the withdrawal of Larry Summers who proved too controversial to be confirmed by the Senate. Yellen is currently a vice chairwoman at the Fed and is currently considered to face an easy confirmation process by the Senate.
President Obama will nominate Janet L. Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, White House officials said Tuesday night, ending an unusually prolonged and public search to fill one of the most important economic policy-making jobs in the world. Ms. Yellen, 67, has been the Fed’s vice chairwoman since 2010, when Mr. Obama nominated her to the post and she was easily confirmed on a voice vote by the Senate. She would be the first woman to run the central bank.
The global economy is run by central banks and the Federal Reserve is first among central banks. If confirmed, Yellen could fairly be characterized as the most powerful woman in the world. As the 2008 crisis well demonstrated, the Federal Reserve’s decisions are not only highly influential in normal times but the central bank can rewrite the rules and redirect major parts of the economy at whim with little to no oversight. The decisions made by the Fed reverberate throughout the globe, far beyond America’s borders.
Of course what can not be put aside is that Yellen was not President Obama’s first choice. Obama, in what would have been yet another betrayal to working people, initially favored Larry Summers for the job. Summers, a longtime Wall Street apparatchik, was thankfully blocked by progressive Democrats in the Senate who were wary of appointing a man who was both callous and continually wrong about economics to the post.
Mr. Obama’s loyalty to Mr. Summers pitted him this summer against many progressives in his party’s base, as well as liberal Democratic senators, who wanted him to make history by nominating Ms. Yellen.
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, whose letter endorsing Ms. Yellen and signed by a third of Democratic senators helped turn the tide against Mr. Summers, said in a statement late Tuesday, “Today is a historic moment for the Federal Reserve, for women everywhere and for all of us who care about job creation.
As wonderful as it is to see a woman take over the longtime boys club at the Fed, Yellen won’t have much time to enjoy the historical moment – she will have to hit the ground running. One of Bernanke’s last acts as Fed Chairman was to cave to speculators and not (as he claimed he would do) taper or slowdown on the Fed’s highly controversial Quantitative Easing program. Bernanke basically punted that ticking time bomb to his successor.
If confirmed, Yellen is going to have a delicate dance to do with the markets as to how to cut off the QE stimulus without causing too much pain or even a crash. And that’s in the scenario where Congress doesn’t trigger a default on US debt. So enjoy the confirmation party Janet, but don’t stay at the punch bowl too long.