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Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair

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The US Senate’s approval on Monday of Janet Yellen to lead the US Federal Reserve puts a woman at the head of the world’s most powerful central bank for the first time.

Few doubt her qualifications to take on the job of shepherding the US economy back to sustained growth, after the deep damage done by the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009.

The veteran economist has done long service both as an academic and at the Fed, serving as vice chair and a close ally to the outgoing chairman, Ben Bernanke, for the past four years.

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She was as much a part of the Fed’s program to further boost growth to reduce joblessness as was Bernanke, and has been a key driver of the recent push to make its intentions more clear to the public.

When nominating her in October, President Barack Obama called her “exceptionally qualified” for what he said was one of the most important jobs in the world.

“She is a proven leader, and she’s tough. Not just because she is from Brooklyn,” Obama joked, in reference to a New York borough notorious for producing no-nonsense characters.

He cited her record of having “sounded the alarm early” about the housing and financial bubble that led to the 2008-2009 recession.

“It’s more important than ever that we have strong regulators like Janet Yellen… who isn’t afraid to act when they find abuses that put Americans at risk,” Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown said.

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At 67, she has also built a strong reputation as an academic economist, teaching at the University of California at Berkeley.

Her family is a mini-economic think tank. Husband George Akerlof is a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, and is currently Senior Resident Scholar at the International Monetary Fund.

Their son Robert Akerlof is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Warwick. They are known for taking economic texts to the beach on vacation.

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“The truth is,” Yellen once told an interviewer in her distinctive Brooklyn accent, “if you spent an evening at our house you would probably hear economics discussed over the dinner table.

“You would eat a diet that is richer in discussions of economics and policy issues than many people would find appetizing.”

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She and her husband have a long-term interest in the impact of joblessness on the economy, and through that Yellen has helped keep Fed policy focused on bringing down the unemployment rate.

In her Senate confirmation hearing in November, she made it clear she would not break from Bernanke’s policies. which both officials say are designed to get the US economy into higher gear.

“We have made good progress, but we have farther to go to regain the ground lost in the crisis and the recession,” she told the committee.

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“I consider it imperative to do what we can to promote a very strong recovery,”

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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Stefanik voters turning on GOP lawmaker after she threw away her credibility to defend Trump

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Over the course of the impeachment hearings, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has gone from a relative backbencher who sells herself as a moderate to voters in Upstate New York, to a theatrical partisan grandstanding for President Donald Trump and a top target of ire from Democrats.

But according to Politico, at least some of her voters appear turned off by her new stance.

"While Stefanik once able to strike a delicate balance between her Republican identity and her positions on issues like climate change, some think those earlier convictions are gone, like Phillip Paige, a former Stefanik backer and a member of SUNY Potsdam’s College Republicans," wrote Politico's Anna Gronewald. "A native of the 21st district’s Madrid, New York, Paige said he started to lose faith in Stefanik when she began supporting Trump as the party’s nominee in 2016. Paige supported John Kasich’s candidacy in that election. 'A lot of her boots-on-the-ground young Republican crowd has really become quite disillusioned,' he said. 'We saw her as what we thought the future of the Republican Party was and that really has been disproven. Unless, maybe the future of the Republican party is Donald Trump.'"

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DOJ employees urged to revolt against Bill Barr for throwing IG report ‘in the trash’ to defend Trump

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On MSNBC's "AM Joy," former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne excoriated Attorney General William Barr for his partisan suppression of the inspector general's conclusions about the FBI's Russia investigation.

"Here's the problem. The inspector general has already found that the — the investigation was not motivated in the way that Bill Barr is saying it is, and he's directly taking all the work of all the people and he's throwing it in the trash," said Alksne. "And he's added this other layer of an investigation and now he's broken all the rules, because one of the rules in an investigation is you don't talk about it in the middle, and he's done that. And it's a very threatening thing to the person who did the initial investigation, and it's also a way of putting his thumb on the scale with the guy who's doing the followup investigation, [U.S. Attorney John] Durham. He was talked into issuing a press release that was completely improper."

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2020 Election

GOP ridiculed for hyping Ohio anti-impeachment protest — and only a handful of Trump supporters showed

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The official Twitter of account of the Republican National Committee was buried in mockery after hyping up a video of anti-impeachment protesters in Youngstown, Ohio, where it appears only a handful of people showed up.

According to the tweet, "Ohioans are sick and tired of the Democrats’ impeachment charade. It’s time to STOP THE MADNESS!"

However, in the video from WKBN, which can be seen below, few people chose to show up for the cameras.

As one commenter noted with tongue-in-cheek, "Thought Ohio had a few more people than that."

That was the general consensus in the comments.

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