Janet Yellen, the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, is set to achieve another first once President-elect Joe Biden nominates her as the first woman ever to lead Treasury Department. The 74-year-old economist is likely to be named as Biden's choice for the treasury secretary on Tuesday.
Biden, a former 36-year senator and eight-year vice president, had hinted on Friday that his choice would be widely acceptable to Democrats. If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen will have a big job in hand that of leading her administration to help revive the country's economy that has been left battered and bruised by coronavirus pandemic and shutdowns.
Once Yellen is selected by the Senate, she would become the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers, a rare achievement for a woman in American economist. Yellen became the first woman to be appointed as the chairman of the Federal Reserve in February 2014 during the Obama era, after serving as the vice governor for more than three years.
Prior to that, she had served as head of the Council of Economic Advisers to President Bill Clinton. However, Donald Trump declined to reappoint her to the Fed chair after his election in 2016, making her the first central bank chief not to serve two terms since the Carter administration.
In fact, Trump has been critical of Yellen and has often slammed her saying that she "should be ashamed" of her policy actions and accused her of keeping interest rates low in order to bolster President Barack Obama's legacy.
However, Yellen has seldom reacted to Trump although last year, when she was asked if she thought Trump "had a grasp" of macroeconomic policy she said: "No I do not." Yellen's role doesn't end as an ace economist. As a member of the Climate Leadership Council, she also actively supported taxing carbon emissions as the most efficient way to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Married to the Nobel-winning economist and her frequent co-author George Akerlof, Yellen is also considered one of the best-connected economists in the world.
Big Job in Hand
News of Yellen likely to be nominated by Biden as his choice for the Fed chair came as a huge relief for Wall Street. The decision was cheered by investors and also put an end to Wall Street's fretting over Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has vowed to clip big banks with tighter financial regulations.
That said, Yellen will have a massive job in hand. She will take the job during one of the most trying times in global history. In August, she had written a piece in the New York Times, arguing that Congress needed to approve additional stimulus to spur growth amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Millions remain out of work, and women and people of color have been hit disproportionately hard by the downturn owing to the coronavirus pandemic. Congress has struggled to reach agreement on a fresh round of financial aid, the US national debt is at record levels, and relations with the US's major trading partners have worsened after the Trump administration's trade wars.
Yellen, professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, a former assistant professor at Harvard and a lecturer at the London School of Economics, will now have to lead her administration to resurrect the job market and the uneven growth.