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Senate confirms Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve chair

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Janet Yellen is sworn in for her confirmation hearing of the Senate Banking (AFP)

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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Things are so bad for Republicans the GOP had to send money to Texas

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In 2016, then-anti-Trump Republican Sen. Linsey Graham proclaimed, "If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it." It seems his prediction is coming closer to fruition.

Financial reporting reveals that the Republican Party was forced to send $1.3 million to ruby-red Texas as the election nears.

It was something spotted by ProPublica developer and ex-reporter Derek Willis Sunday.

"That's never happened before," he tweeted.

He noted that the Texas GOP raised $3.3 million in August, but nearly half of that came from their national parents.

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What the London ‘Blitz’ reveals about how much pain and tragedy people can handle in 2020

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It's hard to imagine how 2020 could possibly get worse. "If we lose Betty White," a friend said on a drive to the Supreme Court to lay flowers.

So many Americans have lost friends or family members to COVID-19. Thousands of Americans survived the virus only to desperately needed organ transplants and forever will struggle to breathe the way they once did. Others are still suffering without smell or taste even three months after having the virus. Millions of Americans are out of work. Debt is stacking up for those trying to survive in the COVID economy. A lack of health insurance can mean hospitalizations from the virus are putting people into bankruptcy.

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Stop trying to convince people you’re right — it will never persuade anyone: expert

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MSNBC host Joshua Johnson noted that this year has been full of strife, with Americans having a lot to stand up about. Whether the slaying of unarmed Black men and police brutality, or healthcare, and the coronavirus, Americans are lining up to protest.

Johnson asked if people try to start tough conversations, how do they keep it productive, and when it's time to give up. In her book, We Need to Talk, Celest Headlee explains tools that people can use to have productive conversations about tough issues that help move the needle.

"Keep in mind that a protest isn't a conversation, right?" she first began. "That's a different kind of communication. The first thing is that our goal in conversations is not always a productive one. In other words, oftentimes, we go into these conversations hoping to change somebody's mind or convince them that they are wrong. You're just never going to accomplish that. There's no evidence. We haven't been able to -- through years and years of research we haven't been able to find evidence that over a conversation somebody said, 'You're right, I was completely wrong.' You've convinced me. So, we have to stop trying to do that. We have to find a new purpose for those conversations."

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