What you need to know about Janet Yellen

The first female chair of the Federal Reserve is a doveish influence - how will she fare under Donald Trump?

by Andrew Saunders
Last Updated: 25 Nov 2016

The chair of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen is the world's most powerful central banker and presides over the $18tn US economy. The first woman to hold her office in its 102-year history, she was nominated by President Obama (the first African American to hold his) in February 2014, and even her detractors allow that she is pretty well-qualified for the job.

A distinguished economist - her PhD at Yale was supervised by Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz - she has been described as an 'unreconstructed Keynesian' in contrast to her predecessor, the more monetarist Ben Bernanke. All the same, it was on her watch that the Fed raised interest rates last December by 25 basis points - the first rise since 2006. In a recent congressional hearing, she hinted that further rate hikes may not be far away, but only if inflationary pressures rise. Even central bankers can't predict the future.

Born in New York in 1946 to a family of Polish immigrants, she graduated summa cum laude from Pembroke College at Brown University, after a lastminute switch from philosophy to economics. She was chair of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and was made chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers in 1997.

Her doveish outlook has set her at odds with the many hawks down on Wall Street. Not to mention the president elect, who famously accused her of keeping rates low for political reasons earlier this year. Will she resign before her term is up in 2018? The irony is that a Trump shift to fiscal stimulus would actually suit her rather better than the current monetarist agenda. Funny old world, innit?

Image credit: Day Donaldson/Flickr

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