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Yellen ’67 to be nominated to Fed Chair post

If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve

President Obama will nominate Janet Yellen ’67, current vice chair of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, for the Federal Reserve Chair position today, the White House announced Tuesday.

If confirmed, Yellen would be the first woman to lead the bank in its 100-year history. Ben Bernanke, current chairman of the Federal Reserve, will retire January 2014.

Yellen’s confirmation would also make her one of two Brown alums to lead major economic institutions — Jim Yong Kim ’82 currently leads the World Bank.

Yellen’s confirmation process will be in front of a majority Democratic Senate. Barring a filibuster, she is expected to have enough support to be confirmed.

Prior to her position as vice chair, Yellen served as chairwoman of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and as president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She has also taught at universities including Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley.

“I noticed when she was appointed vice chair several years ago. I had looked her up to make sure she was the same person I went to school with,” William Fink ’67 said. “When I found out who it was, I wasn’t surprised.”

The other top contender for the position, Larry Summers, withdrew his name from consideration Sept. 15. Summers, who was formerly president of Harvard, had received significant opposition from Democrats who expressed preference for Yellen. Progressives and women’s groups also endorsed Yellen for the chair position.

Jeff Koshel MA’67 said he was not surprised that Yellen became the front-runner following Summers’ withdrawal from the race.

“I think it’s actually a very fitting, very appropriate and very wise appointment,” Koshel said. “She doesn’t seem to be somebody who’s in it for the glamor of the appointments.”

Brown professors and students who overlapped with Yellen recalled her as a student with significant drive and academic potential, The Herald previously reported.

Yellen has over 10 years of experience as a top official at the Fed, compared to Bernanke’s three years as a Fed governor.

According to a July 2013 Wall Street Journal article that “examined more than 700 predictions made between 2009 and 2012” by 14 Federal Reserve policy makers, Yellen’s financial predictions were most accurate overall, The Herald previously reported.

“She is the best choice and would be regardless of who else might be under consideration,” said John Kwoka ’67,  professor of economics at Northeastern University. “Her nomination is particularly welcome since her expertise is on the very issues facing the U.S. and global economies — employment and growth.”

According to NBC News, Obama’s nomination announcement is set for 3 p.m today.

“Once in a while, good things happen to good people,” said Koshel. “I think in this case, that’s what happened to Janet Yellen.”

In a statement emailed to The Herald, President Christina Paxson said she was “delighted” by the appointment.

“I commend President Obama for this inspired choice,” Paxson said in the statement.


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