Janet Yellen, a woman who has shattered some lofty glass ceilings – she was the first woman to chair the central bank of the United States of America and The Federal Reserve System [the Fed] – has broken glass again. Dr. Yellen has been named by President-Elect Biden as his choice for U.S. Treasury Secretary for the incoming Biden/Harris administration. In January 2021 Dr. Yellen will ascend to perhaps the world’s most important economic position, Treasurer of the United States of America, at a most precarious moment in history. Alexander Hamilton was the first to hold the post in 1789.
Dr. Yellen was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 13, 1946. Her husband, George A. Akerlof, is a Nobel Laureate in economics .
Dr. Yellen graduated summa cum laude from Pembroke College in Brown University, and she received a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University. She was an Assistant Professor of Economics at Harvard University from 1971 until 1976; an economist for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from 1977-1978; and a lecturer at the London School of Economics and Political Science from 1978-1980. In 1980 Dr. Yellen taught macroeconomics at the Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley picking up numerous teaching awards along the way. Eventually, she was named Professor Emeritus for the Haas School of Business. Her extensive academic writing on macroeconomics and unemployment dynamics foreshadowed her mold-breaking policy positions as Federal Reserve System Chair.
From 1994 through 1997 Dr. Yellen served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, leaving to head President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors until 1999, while also chairing the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 1999, Dr. Yellen returned to teach at UC Berkeley, and in 2004 she became President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. In 2010 she became Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors.
President Barak Obama nominated her to chair the Federal Reserve System, to which she was confirmed by the Senate in January of 2014 by the smallest vote ever, 56/26, as her position caused concern for those who thought the primary job of the Fed was to still inflation. Sworn in on February 3, 2014 as Fed Chair, Dr. Yellen’s successful policies of job and wage growth while maintaining low interest rates kept the economy growing steadily during her term. She proved early doubters wrong while reprioritizing the mission of the Fed Chair. She left the Fed in February 2018 after being nominated for a second term by President Trump, which she did not accept.