|15th Chair of the Federal Reserve|
February 3, 2014 – February 3, 2018
|Preceded by||Ben Bernanke|
|Succeeded by||Jerome Powell|
|Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve System|
October 4, 2010 – February 3, 2014
|Preceded by||Donald Kohn|
|Succeeded by||Stanley Fischer|
|President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco|
June 14, 2004 – October 4, 2010
|Preceded by||Robert Parry|
|Succeeded by||John Williams|
|18th Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers|
February 18, 1997 – August 3, 1999
|Preceded by||Joseph Stiglitz|
|Succeeded by||Martin Baily|
Janet Louise Yellen
August 13, 1946
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||Brown University (BA)|
Yale University (MA, PhD)
Janet Louise Yellen (born August 13, 1946) is an American economist at the Brookings Institution who served as the Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, and as Vice Chair from 2010 to 2014. Previously, she was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton; and business professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
Yellen was nominated by President Obama to succeed Ben Bernanke as Chairwoman of the United States Federal Reserve. On January 6, 2014, the U.S. Senate confirmed Yellen's nomination. In a landmark decision spurred by popular demand, she was sworn in on February 3, 2014, making her the first woman to hold the position. She served on the Board until February 3, 2018. In addition to her continued contributions to the field of economics, Yellen is also noted for breaking down many gender barriers as a woman in the field.
Yellen was born to a Polish Jewish family in New York City's Brooklyn borough, as the daughter of Anna Ruth (née Blumenthal; 1907–1986), an elementary school teacher, and Julius Yellen (1906–1975), a family physician, who worked from the ground floor of their home. Her mother quit her job to take care of Janet and her older brother, John. She graduated from Fort Hamilton High School in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn as a valedictorian. She graduated summa cum laude from Pembroke College in Brown University with a degree in economics in 1967. At Brown, Yellen had switched her planned major from philosophy to economics and was particularly influenced by professors George Borts and Herschel Grossman. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1971. Her dissertation was titled "Employment, Output and Capital Accumulation in an Open Economy: A Disequilibrium Approach" under the supervision of Nobel laureates James Tobin and Joseph Stiglitz, who later called Yellen one of his brightest and most memorable students. Two dozen economists earned their Ph.D from Yale in 1971, but Yellen was the only woman in that doctoral class.
Yellen was an assistant professor at Harvard in 1971–76, an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1977–78, and a lecturer at The London School of Economics and Political Science in 1978–80. Beginning in 1980, Yellen conducted research at the Haas School and taught macroeconomics to full-time and part-time MBA and undergraduate students. She is now a Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, where she was named Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics. Twice she has been awarded the Haas School's outstanding teaching award.
Yellen served as Chair of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers from February 18, 1997, to August 3, 1999, and was appointed as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from August 12, 1994, to February 17, 1997. She chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997–1999. During her time with the Council of Economic Advisors, Yellen oversaw a landmark study that focused on the gender pay divide in June 1998. Within this study, the Council analyzed data from 1969 to 1996 to determine the cause for women to earn substantially less than men. By observing trends attributable to issues like occupation/industry as well as familial status, it was determined that while the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was a step forward, there was no explanation as to why there was a 75 percent difference between average pay for women and men. It was concluded that this gap had no correlation with differences in productivity and as such, was the reprecussions of discrimination within the workforce. Yellen serves as president of the Western Economic Association International and is a former vice president of the American Economic Association. She was a fellow of the Yale Corporation.
From June 14, 2004, until 2010, Yellen was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She was a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 2009. Following her appointment to the Federal Reserve in 2004, she spoke publicly, and in meetings of the Fed's monetary policy committee, about her concern about the potential consequences of the boom in housing prices. However, Yellen did not lead the San Francisco Fed to "move to check [the] increasingly indiscriminate lending" of Countrywide Financial, the largest lender in the U.S.
In a 2005 speech in San Francisco, Yellen argued against deflating the housing bubble because "arguments against trying to deflate a bubble outweigh those in favor of it" and predicted that the housing bubble "could be large enough to feel like a good-sized bump in the road, but the economy would likely be able to absorb the shock." In 2010, Yellen told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that she and other San Francisco Fed officials looked for guidance from Washington because "she had not explored the San Francisco Fed's ability to act unilaterally," according to the New York Times. Yellen conceded her previous misjudgment of the housing crisis to the Commission: "I guess I thought that similar to the collapse of the stock market around the tech bubble, that most likely the economy could withstand [the housing collapse] and the Fed could move to support the economy the way it had after the tech bubble collapsed."
On April 28, 2010, President Obama nominated Yellen to succeed Donald Kohn as vice-chair of the Federal Reserve System. In July, the Senate Banking Committee voted 17 to 6 to confirm her, though the top Republican on the panel, Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, voted no, saying he believed Yellen had an "inflationary bias." At the same time, on the heels of related testimony by Fed Chairman Bernanke, FOMC voting member James B. Bullard of the St. Louis Fed made a statement that the U.S. economy was "at risk of becoming 'enmeshed in a Japanese-style deflationary outcome within the next several years.'"
Bullard's statement was interpreted as a possible shift within the FOMC balance between inflation hawks and doves. Yellen's pending confirmation, along with those of Peter A. Diamond and Sarah Bloom Raskin to fill vacancies, was seen as possibly furthering such a shift in the FOMC. All three nominations were seen as "on track to be confirmed by the Senate."
On October 4, 2010, Yellen was sworn in for a 4-year term ending October 4, 2014. Yellen has been an outspoken advocate for using the powers of the Federal Reserve to reduce unemployment, and has seemed more willing than other economists to risk slightly higher inflation to accomplish this goal. Yellen simultaneously began a 14-year term as a member of the Federal Reserve Board that will expire on January 31, 2024.
On October 9, 2013, Yellen was officially nominated to replace Bernanke as Chair of the Federal Reserve. During the nomination hearings held on November 14, 2013, Yellen defended the more than $3 trillion in stimulus funds that the Fed had been injecting into the U.S. economy. Additionally, Yellen testified that U.S. monetary policy is to revert towards more traditional monetary policy once the economy is back to normal.
On December 20, 2013, the U.S. Senate voted 59–34 for cloture on Yellen's nomination. On January 6, 2014, she was confirmed as Chair of the Federal Reserve by a vote of 56–26, the narrowest margin ever for the position. In addition to being the first woman to hold the position, Yellen is also the first Democratic nominee to run the Fed since Paul Volcker became chairman in 1979. After being elected by the Federal Open Market Committee as its chair on January 30, 2014, she took office on February 3.
On December 16, 2015, while Yellen was chair of the Federal Reserve, the latter increased its key interest rate for first time since 2006. Once in office, Yellen began the process of reversing some of the policies that had been enacted in response to the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. Notably, she oversaw a program to sell Treasury and mortgage bonds that the Fed had purchased to stimulate the economy. Her tenure was also noted for job and wage growth, both of which occurred while she maintained low interest rates.
On June 27, 2017, Yellen generated controversy when she claimed that there will not be another economic crisis "in our lifetime." Yellen explained that this assumption can be made due to her belief that banks are "very much stronger" as a result of Federal Reserve oversight. Tim Price of the Ludwig von Mises Institute compared her remarks to John Maynard Keynes's claim that "We will not have anymore crashes in our time." On December 11, 2018 Yellen later warned of the possibility of a financial crisis by citing "gigantic holes in the system" after her departure from the Federal Reserve.
Trump considered renominating Yellen for another term, but on November 2, 2017 nominated Jerome Powell to succeed Yellen when her term ended on February 3, 2018. Yellen's height was reportedly a factor in Trump's decision. After Trump's decision, Yellen announced that she would leave the Federal Reserve Board of Governors at the end of her term as chair.
Yellen received generally high marks from supporters and critics alike during her tenure. According to research conducted by The Washington Post in December 2017, unemployment figures showed the greatest improvement since 1948 and, in comparing "S&P 500 cumulative (inflation-adjusted) returns under the past four Fed chairs. Yellen has the highest return... no other recent Fed chair has seen the market climb this far this fast as it did under Yellen."
On February 2, 2018, Yellen announced that the Fed will place a growth cap on Wells Fargo and remove four board members that were responsible for fraud.
On February 2, 2018, the Brookings Institution announced that Yellen would be joining the think-tank as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence. She will be affiliated with the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, joining her predecessor and former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.
Yellen was one of the signees of a 2018 amici curiae brief that expressed support for Harvard University in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard lawsuit. Other signees of the brief include Alan B. Krueger, Robert M. Solow, George A. Akerlof, Cecilia Rouse, as well as numerous others.
On February 25, 2019, Yellen criticized Trump's economic policies. When asked if she believes Trump has "a grasp of economic policy," Yellen said "No, I do not." In the interview with "Marketplace," Yellen explained that she doubts that Trump could articulate the Federal Reserve's explicit goals of "maximum employment and price stability." Yellen pointed out Trump's claims that the Federal Reserve's goals involve trade, which she explains to be objectively false. This interview was a change in tone for Yellen, who traditionally handled her differences with Trump in a neutral manner.
Yellen is considered by many on Wall Street to be a "dove" (more concerned with unemployment than with inflation) and as such to be less likely to advocate Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, as compared, for example, to William Poole (former St. Louis Fed president) a "hawk". However, some predicted Yellen could act more as a hawk if economic circumstances dictate.
Yellen is a Keynesian economist and advocates the use of monetary policy in stabilizing economic activity over the business cycle. She believes in the modern version of the Phillips curve, which originally was an observation about an inverse relationship between unemployment and inflation. In her 2010 nomination hearing for Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Yellen said, "The modern version of the Phillips curve model—relating movements in inflation to the degree of slack in the economy—has solid theoretical and empirical support."Prior to having made that statement however, Yellen gave a speech in 2007 as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco where she is quoted as saying, "I have supported the decision to hold policy steady at the current rate despite inflation remaining higher than I would like it to be. Let me be clear that I do want inflation to move down, but as I just indicated with my forecast, I believe policy may now be well-positioned to foster exactly such an outcome."
Yellen received the Wilbur Cross Medal from Yale in 1997, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brown in 1998, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Bard College in 2000. She received an Honorary Doctorate from the London School of Economics in May 2015, making her and her husband "the first wife and husband team to hold honorary doctorates from the School".
In 2012, she was elected Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association.
In October 2015, Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute ranked Janet Yellen #1 in the Public Investor 100 list
In October 2015, Bloomberg Markets ranked Janet Yellen first in their annual list of the 50 most influential economists and policymakers.
Yellen is married to George Akerlof, economist, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate, professor at Georgetown University, and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Their son, Robert Akerlof, teaches Economics at the University of Warwick.
The personal details about Yellen are also fascinating: Yellen's brother, John, is the director of the archeology program at the National Science Foundation
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| Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Robert T. Parry
| President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
| Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve System
| Chair of the Federal Reserve