Janet Yellen, First Jewish Woman Fed Chair, Brings Compassion to Tough Job

Signals Need To Boost Economy Even If Inflation Rises

Banker-in-Chief: Janet Yellen is introduced by President Barack Obama as his pick to be the next Federal Reserve chief.
getty images
Banker-in-Chief: Janet Yellen is introduced by President Barack Obama as his pick to be the next Federal Reserve chief.

By Reuters

Published October 09, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Reserve, combines a solid reputation as an economist with a keen interest in communication - fitting for someone who once joked that her dinner guests should expect a discussion of economics.

Yellen, a former professor who would be the first Jewish woman to hold the job, has a reputation as one of the central bank’s most employment-focused officials and has also been at the forefront of a communications “revolution” at the once-secretive Fed.

She has been a close ally of Chairman Ben Bernanke as he took the central bank further and further into unfamiliar terrain to boost the U.S. economy, backing three rounds of bond buying that have swelled the Fed’s balance sheet to about $3.7 trillion.

Obama announced on Wednesday that he would nominate Yellen to succeed Bernanke. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would be the first woman to head the Fed in its 100-year history.

The white-haired Yellen played a big role in the Fed’s adoption of a 2 percent inflation target and its decision to treat undershooting and overshooting that target as equally problematic.

Like many Fed officials, Yellen, who counts hiking and cooking among her hobbies, believes ensuring that the public and financial markets understand the central bank’s plans is critical in making those policies effective.

“The effects of monetary policy depend critically on the public getting the message about what policy will do months or years in the future,” she told a journalists’ group in April.

The softly spoken 67-year-old is, by her own admission, willing to tolerate inflation overshooting the Fed’s 2 percent target when faced with uncomfortably high unemployment. “A wise and humane policy is occasionally to let inflation rise even when inflation is running above target,” she said in 1995.

In a speech last year, she argued the central bank can achieve the best economic outcome by allowing inflation to exceed the Fed’s target for several years to achieve a faster reduction in unemployment, as long as longer-term inflation expectations remain in check.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.