Janet Yellen confirmation marks new era at Federal Reserve
Janet Yellen won a confirmation vote in the US Senate Monday, setting her on track to become the next Federal Reserve chair and to guide the central bank’s policymaking through a new and challenging economic era.
She’ll be the first woman ever to hold the job. She’s also viewed as unusually well prepared for the role, having served on the Fed’s governing board, heading one of its regional banks and, most recently, serving in the No. 2 seat next to outgoing Chairman Ben Bernanke.
But when Vice Chair Yellen takes the reins later this month, it won’t be a time for resting on her accomplishments.
The nation’s unemployment rate stands at a 7 percent, down from its post-recession peak but still an uncomfortably high level affecting millions of US workers.
The Fed, meanwhile, has ballooned its portfolio of bond assets to some $4 trillion in an effort to support the economy’s recovery by adding downward pressure on long-term interest rates. It also brought short-term interest rates to historic lows near zero percent.
Yellen was confirmed with a 56-to-26 Senate vote early Monday evening, with the substantial number of “no” votes, symbolizing how the Fed’s role has come in for greater scrutiny and criticism in recent years.
Where many economists say the Fed’s efforts did much to steer the economy out of recession, the US central bank is not particularly popular with the American public.
Yellen’s task, as many economists see it, is to navigate a careful and gradual transition – keeping pressure on the monetary throttle to help the job market get back to normal, while also setting the stage for the Fed’s own monetary policy to get back to normal, too.
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