Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen
Chair of the Federal Reserve
Assumed office
February 3, 2014
President Barack Obama
Deputy Stanley Fischer
Preceded by Ben Bernanke
Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve System
In office
October 4, 2010  February 3, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Donald Kohn
Succeeded by Stanley Fischer
President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
In office
June 14, 2004  October 4, 2010
Preceded by Robert Parry
Succeeded by John Williams
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
In office
February 18, 1997  August 3, 1999
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Joseph Stiglitz
Succeeded by Martin Baily
Personal details
Born Janet Louise Yellen
(1946-08-13) August 13, 1946
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) George Akerlof
Alma mater Brown University (BA)
Yale University (MA, PhD)

Janet Louise Yellen (born August 13, 1946) is an American economist. She is the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, previously serving 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 Chair of the United States Federal Reserve.[1] On January 6, 2014, the U.S. Senate confirmed Yellen's nomination.[2] She was sworn in on February 3, 2014, making her the first woman to hold the position.[3]

Early life and education

Yellen was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Anna (née Blumenthal) and Julius Yellen, a physician.[4][5] Her father's family originally came from the Polish town of Suwałki. She graduated from Fort Hamilton High School in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.[6] 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.[7] 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.[1] Two dozen economists earned their Ph.D from Yale in 1971, but Yellen was the only woman in that doctoral class.[1]

Yellen is married to George Akerlof, a Nobel prize-winning economist, professor at Georgetown University, and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley.[8] Their son, Robert Akerlof, teaches Economics at the University of Warwick.[9]


Yellen was an assistant professor at Harvard in 1971–76[10] and a lecturer at The London School of Economics and Political Science in 1978–80.[11] She was an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1977–78.[12] Beginning in 1980, Yellen conducted research at the Haas School and teaching 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,[13] 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. 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.[14]

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."[15] 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.[14] 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."[16]

In July 2009, Yellen was mentioned as a potential successor to Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve System, before he was renominated by Barack Obama.[17][18]


Yellen sworn in by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in October 2010

On April 28, 2010, President Obama nominated Yellen to succeed Donald Kohn as vice-chair of the Federal Reserve System.[19] 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".[20]

On October 4, 2010, Yellen was sworn in for a 4-year term ending October 4, 2014. Yellen simultaneously began a 14-year term as a member of the Federal Reserve Board that will expire on January 31, 2024.[21]

Chair of the Federal Reserve

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 has been injecting into the U.S. economy.[22] Additionally, Yellen testified that U.S. monetary policy is to revert towards more traditional monetary policy once the economy is back to normal.[23][24]

On December 20, 2013, the U.S. Senate voted 59–34 for cloture on Yellen's nomination.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27] After being elected by the Federal Open Market Committee as its chair on January 30, 2014, she took office on February 3.[28][29]

On December 16, 2015, while Yellen was chair of the Federal Reserve, the latter increased its key interest rate for first time since 2006.[30]

After the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, Yellen vowed to protect Dodd-Frank.[31]

Economic philosophy

Secretary Jack Lew and Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen

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".[32] However, some predict Yellen could act more as a hawk if economic circumstances dictate.[33]

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."[34]

In a 1995 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee while serving on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Yellen stated that occasionally letting inflation rise could be a "wise and humane policy" if it increases output. At the same meeting she also stated that each percentage point reduction in inflation results in a 4.4 percent loss of Gross Domestic Product.[35]

Honors and awards

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. In October 2013, it was announced that she will receive an Honorary Doctorate from the London School of Economics in July 2014, making her and her husband "the first wife and husband team to hold honorary doctorates from the School".[36]

In October 2010, she received the Adam Smith Award from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE).[37]

In 2012, she was elected Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association.

In September 2012, she was included in the 50 Most Influential list of Bloomberg Markets magazine.

In 2014, she was named by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in the world. She is the highest ranking American on the list.[38]

In May 2015, Yellen received an honorary Doctor of Social Science degree from Yale University.[39]

In October 2015, Yellen received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Warwick.[40]

In October 2015, Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute ranked Janet Yellen #1 in the Public Investor 100 list[41]

In October 2015, Bloomberg Markets ranked Janet Yellen first in their annual list of the 50 most influential economists and policymakers.[42]

Positions held

External service and assignments

Selected works



  1. 1 2 3 Mui, Yian (February 2, 2014). "New Fed Chief Janet Yellen lets a long career of breaking barriers speak for itself". Washington Post.
  2. Lowrey, Annie (January 6, 2014). "Senate Confirms Yellen as Fed Chairwoman". New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  3. Yellen Takes Over Federal Reserve As Bernanke Departs
  4. "Obama to nominate Jewish economist Janet Yellen as new Fed chief". World Jewish Congress. October 9, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  5. "Janet Yellen's Faith Slips Under the Radar As Gender Takes Over -New Fed Chief Is First Women to Hold the Position". The Jewish Daily Forward. October 15, 2013
  6. "Fort Hamilton HS class of 1962". Forthamiltonhighschool.net. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  7. Grace, Stephanie (January–February 2014). "Banker to the Nation". Brown Alumni Magazine. Retrieved May 23, 2015.
  8. "U.C. Berkeley professor turns 'lemons' into Nobel Prize". J. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. San Francisco Jewish Community Publications. October 12, 2001. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  9. "Faculty Directory – University of Warwick, Department of Economics". University of Warwick. Retrieved March 13, 2012.
  10. "FRB: Janet L. Yellen". www.federalreserve.gov. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  11. "Janet Yellen | Faculty Directory | Berkeley-Haas". facultybio.haas.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2016-10-23.
  12. Appelbaum, Binyamin (April 24, 2013). "Possible Fed Successor Has Admirers and Foes". New York Times.
  13. "Dr. Janet L. Yellen, Chair, Council of Economic Advisers". Clinton4.nara.gov. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  14. 1 2 Appelbaum, Binyamin (August 13, 2013). "Divining the Regulatory Goals of Fed Rivals". The New York Times.
  15. Janet Yellen (October 21, 2005). "Presentation to the Fourth Annual Haas Gala" (PDF). Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  16. "FCIC Staff Audiotape of Interview with Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve Board". Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. November 15, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  17. Hilsenrath, Jon; Reddy, Sudeep; Wessel, David (July 9, 2009). "White House Ponders Bernanke's Future". The Wall Street Journal.
  18. Lee, Carol E. (September 16, 2013). "Yellen Is Now Top Fed Hopeful". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  19. Reddy, Sudeep (April 29, 2010). "Obama Nominates Yellen, Raskin, Diamond to Fed Board". The Wall Street Journal.
  20. Chan, Sewell, Fed Member’s "Deflation Warning Hints at Policy Shift", The New York Times, July 29, 2010. Retrieved July 29, 2010.
  21. Janet L. Yellen's Biography page at the Federal Reserve System website
  22. CNN: "Smooth sailing for Yellen in front of Senate" By Annalyn Kurtz November 14, 2013
  23. Opellius: "2014 Dollar, Currency & Gold Outlook" By Axel Merk
  24. Nomination of Janet L. Yellen: Hearing Before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, on Nomination of Janet L. Yellen, of California, to be Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 14, 2013
  25. "Vote Summary - Question: On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Nomination of Janet L. Yellen to be Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System )". U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress - 1st Session. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  26. Lowrey, Annie (January 6, 2014). "Yellen Wins Backing of Senators to Lead Fed". New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  27. Solomon, Brian (January 6, 2014). "Janet Yellen Confirmed as Fed Chair". Legal Times.
  28. "Janet L. Yellen sworn in as chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System". Federal Reserve Board. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
  29. "FYI: Highlights", bloomberg.econoday.com, January 30, 2014.
  30. Gillespie, Patrick (December 16, 2015). "Finally! Fed raises interest rates". CNNMoney. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  31. "Yellen sends a message to Trump: Hands off Dodd-Frank". www.msn.com. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  32. Bull, Alister (March 12, 2010). "FACTBOX-Yellen, Raskin and Diamond eyed for Fed board". Reuters.
  33. Cussen, Mark P. (October 16, 2013). "Janet Yellen: Background And Philosophy". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  34. "Senate Committee Hearing on the Nomination of Janet Yellen, Peter Diamond, Sarah Bloom Raskin, Osvaldo Luis Gratacos Munet, and Steve Linick". United States Government Printing Office. July 15, 2010. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  35. "Meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee" (PDF). United States Federal Reserve System. January 31 – February 1, 1995. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  36. "From LSE to the Chair of the Federal Reserve". London School of Economics. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  37. Beckner, Steven "Yellen Pleased w/Resolution Regime; Must Monitor Regultn Impact" Market News International, October 11, 2010. Retrieved October 11, 2010.
  38. Howard, Caroline. "The World's Most Powerful Women 2014". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  39. "Yale awards nine honorary degrees at Commencement 2015". Yale University. May 15, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  40. "Warwick to award honorary degree to Janet L. Yellen Chair of the US Federal Reserve System". University of Warwick. October 5, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  41. "Janet Yellen". SWFI. Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  42. Miller, Rich. "Yellen's Sway Over Rates Puts Her Atop Most Influential Ranking". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  43. "Janet Yellen - Faculty Directory". Haas School of Business. Retrieved April 22, 2015.

External links

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Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Stiglitz
Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Succeeded by
Martin Baily
Government offices
Preceded by
Robert Parry
President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
Succeeded by
John Williams
Preceded by
Donald Kohn
Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve System
Succeeded by
Stanley Fischer
Preceded by
Ben Bernanke
Chair of the Federal Reserve
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Megan Brennan
as Postmaster General
Order of Precedence of the United States
Chair of the Federal Reserve
Succeeded by
Michael Boots
as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
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