The US Senate this week approved of President Joe Biden’s nomination of Janet Yellen to be the the country’s 78th treasury secretary, thus building out Biden’s team. Yellen is the first woman to hold the job in the department’s history of more than 2 century old history.
A former chair of the Federal Reserve, 74-year-old Yellen was approved by the Senate on a 84-15 vote, becoming the third member of Biden’s Cabinet to win confirmation. She will have her work cut out for her as the Biden team is looking to gain Congressional support of $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, that is being opposed by the Republicans.
Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor had noted the former Federal Reserve chairwoman had bipartisan support. Schumer said Yellen has a breathtaking range of experience and support for her nomination reflected just how “well suited she is to manage the economic challenges of our time".
Vice-president Kamala Harris swore in Yellen as the US Treasury Secretary and hailed her commitments for working families as a sure path to economic revival.
Today I swore in @JanetYellen as @USTreasury Secretary. Secretary Yellen is a trailblazer, whose deep commitment to working families will be essential as we confront the urgent economic challenges facing the American people. https://t.co/kZLGyQHILd— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) January 26, 2021
Who is Janet Yellen?
Janet Louise Yellen was born August 13, 1946 and brought up in a Polish-Jewish family in New York’s Bay Ridge area  where she also grew up. Her mother, Anna Ruth was a school teacher while her father, Julius Yellen worked as a family physician. Yellen graduated from local Fort Hamilton High School in 1962 and later on graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Pembroke College in Brown University with an economics degree in 1967. At Brown, she switched her planned major from philosophy to economics. She received her PhD in economics from Yale University in 1971. Yellen went on to work as an assistant professor of economics at Harvard after that, teaching till 1976. She was then appointed as an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors by Ted Truman, who had known Yellen from Yale.
A year later, in 1978 Yellen she married George Akerlof and the couple went off to live in London where Akerlof had earlier accepted a teaching position at the London School of Economics (LSE). Yellen also was employed was an economics lecturer by LSE for two years.
Berkeley, Stint at Fed
After the couple returned from the UK, Yellen took up a faculty position at the University of California, Berkeley and researched macroeconomics and taught MBA and undergraduate students. She is now a professor emerita at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Yellen was appointed as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors by then President Bill Clinton in 1994 and the Senate Banking Committee approved of Yellen’s nomination by a vote of 18 to 1. She also went on to chair Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) from February 18, 1997. She was also the second woman ever to hold the position. Two years later, Yellen announced that she was resigning and went back to Berkeley.
An economist by training, Yellen has developed an expertise in areas ranging from labour markets to international finance. Publicly, she frequently signaled concern about how economic policies affect ordinary people, especially disadvantaged communities.
She drew high marks for her stewardship at the Fed, where she employed record-low interest rates and massive bond buying, two policies begun by her predecessor Ben Bernanke, to support the economy to come out of recession.
Yellen has been included in Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and has also appeared on Time’s 2014, 2015, and 2017 edition. Yellen and Akerlof have worked together on research with topics of poverty, unemployment and more.
American rapper Dessa recently released a song ‘Who’s Yellen Now?’, after then President-elect Joe Biden had joked about a song celebrating Yellen’s achievement as the first woman US secretary of the treasury.
As Treasury secretary, Yellen will occupy an important role in shaping and directing Biden’s economic policies. She is also the first woman to serve as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018.
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